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TVA planning to swap retired coal plants with small modular reactors

May 06, 2021

S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):

The Tennessee Valley Authority is eyeing small modular nuclear reactors as replacement options for four remaining coal plants projected to reach the end of their useful lives by 2035.

TVA spokesman Scott Brooks confirmed May 4 that the federal wholesale power authority assumes the 1,242-MW Shawnee, 2,522-MW Cumberland, 988-MW Gallatin and 1,420-MW Kingston facilities will no longer be viable generation resources by the same year U.S. President Joe Biden hopes to fully decarbonize the U.S. electric grid.

Brooks noted that retiring those plants is still contingent on the National Environmental Policy Act review process and TVA’s board will need to approve any closure plans with specific dates.

President and CEO Jeffrey Lyash said at an Atlantic Council event April 28 that TVA is seeking carbon dioxide emission cuts of 70% by 2030 and 80% by 2035 measured against 2005 levels. TVA reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 63% below the 2005 benchmark as of 2020.

On a May 4 earnings call, Lyash said TVA is looking to small modular reactor, or SMR, technology as one way to help achieve the final 20% of its 80%-by-2035 carbon reduction goal.

TVA currently holds the only early SMR permit in the nation at its Clinch River site near the Oak Ridge National Lab outside of Knoxville, Tenn. While no development decisions at that site have been made, Lyash said TVA is working with a nominal timeline of 2032 as “an achievable in-service date if we decide to proceed.”

[Zack Hale]

More: TVA assumes coal phaseout by 2035, with small nukes as potential replacements

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