February 4, 2020 Read More →

TVA closes last unit at Paradise coal plant in Kentucky

Chattanooga Times Free Press:

The Tennessee Valley Authority shut down the last operating unit at its Paradise Fossil Plant in Western Kentucky over the weekend, ending nearly 57 years of coal-fired generation at what was once one of the largest coal plants in TVA’s fleet.

Despite opposition from President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the TVA board voted 5-2 last February to retire the last Paradise unit, along with the Bull Run Steam Plant near Oak Ridge by 2023. Due to a turbine rotor problem at Paradise and the relatively stagnant power demand for TVA this year, the utility decided to shutter Paradise Unit 3 this month rather than continue to invest in trying to keep the aging power facility online.

TVA determined that it could generate or buy cheaper and cleaner power from other sources rather than continuing to rely upon its coal-fired unit on the Green River in Western Kentucky. The other two coal-fired units at Paradise were retired in 2017 and were replaced by a $1 billion combined-cycle natural gas plant which is capable of producing 1,025 megawatts of power.

“Paradise was designed as a major baseload power generating facility, which we no longer need,” TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said Monday.

The first two units of the Paradise began power generation in 1963, each with a generation capacity of 704 megawatts of electricity. At the time, they were the largest operating coal units in the world. But TVA shuttered those units in 2017 and invested $1 billion to replace the coal units with a gas-fired power plant, which continues to operate at Paradise.

TVA has already shut down a majority of the 59 coal-fired units it once operated, cutting the share of its power generated by burning coal from nearly two-thirds of TVA’s generation in the 1980s to 17% of TVA’s generation in fiscal 2019, Hopson said.

[Dave Flessner]

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