May 7, 2018 Read More →

TVA Transitions From Coal Without Cost Increases, Supply Worries

Times Free Press (Chattanooga):

America’s biggest public utility has completed the closing and cleanup of its aging fleet of coal plants to comply with clean air requirements and has done so while keeping power rate increases below the rate of inflation.

When the Tennessee Valley Authority reached a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups in 2011 to clean up its power generation, coal industry advocates warned closing fossil plants would push up power rates and cut jobs in TVA’s seven-state region.

But over the past seven years, TVA managed instead to phase out more than half of the 59 coal-fired units it once operated—and install scrubbers and other pollution controls on some of its biggest remaining coal plants—without any major rate increase. In fact, TVA has cut rates in the past five years while attracting a record volume of investment in its seven-state region.

TVA shuttered 33 coal-fired units in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky and spent $2 billion to install scrubbers or selective catalytic control devices at the Gallatin and Shawnee coal plants in the past decade. In their place, the agency has built combined-cycle, natural- gas-powered plants, added another nuclear reactor and purchased more renewable power.

At the time of TVA’s settlement with the EPA, the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy and other pro-coal advocacy groups warned that TVA’s plans to shutter 7,000 megawatts of coal-fired electricity generation would boost electric rates in the Tennessee Valley by more than 20 percent and cut 65,000 jobs and $900 million of manufacturing output in Tennessee.

“The doom-and-gloom forecasts about the costs of moving away from dirty coal were clearly exaggerated, and we now have cleaner air to breathe and a more energy efficient system,” said Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

More: Pollution Controls Don’t Prove As Costly As Critics Forecast

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