May 7, 2020 Read More →

Coal generation falls to just 12% of Tennessee Valley Authority’s power supply in first quarter

Chattanooga Times Free Press:

For the first time in more than six decades, the Tennessee Valley Authority got more power from renewable sources than from burning coal during the first three months of 2020.

With electricity sales down due to the mild weather and COVID-19 virus shutdowns, TVA used its coal-fired power plants to generate only 12% of its power needs in the past quarter. A generation ago, TVA’s coal plants supplied more than two-thirds of the utility’s electricity.

Last month with most schools, restaurants and stores shut down, TVA at times turned off its 25 remaining coal-fired units and relied entirely upon its nuclear, hydro, natural gas, solar and purchased power supplies to meet the electricity needs in its seven-state region.

Despite President Donald Trump’s appeal to TVA and others to revive “beautiful coal,” TVA has phased out more than half of the 59 coal-fired units it once operated, including the shutdown of its last unit at the Paradise Fossil Plant in Kentucky in February. At the same time, abundant rainfall pushed up power production at TVA’s 29 power-generating dams and the addition of more solar farms in the Tennessee Valley boosted power generated from the sun.

The biggest share of TVA’s power, 43% in the first quarter, came from TVA’s seven nuclear power reactors in Tennessee and Alabama. TVA is studying whether to add even more atomic power by building the nation’s first small modular reactor to help supply Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

TVA was not alone in turning to wind, solar and hydro power, rather than coal, for its power this year. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis reviewed government data on energy production across the United States and found electricity generated by renewable sources like solar, wind and hydro exceeded coal-fired power in the U.S. for a record 40 straight days [and throughout the month of April].

[Dave Flessner]

More: TVA getting more power from renewables than coal this year

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