Nation's Largest Power Company to Shutter 18 Coal-Fired Generating Units in 3 Plants


Photo credit: Bruce Guenter via Flickr/CC BY

The Tennessee Valley Authority is the nation's largest public power company, and as such, it's responsible for running many of our oldest and dirtiest coal plants. It was also responsible for that little ash spill a couple years ago, which you might remember. But let's get on with the good news -- the TVA has announced that it's shutting down 18 of its nastiest coal-fired generating units at three plants, and installing emissions-reducing equipment on three dozen more. Here's the announcement from the TVA (via GOOD):

The Tennessee Valley Authority announced plans Thursday to retire 18 older coal-fired generation units at three power plants as part of the federal utility's vision of being one of the nation's leading providers of low-cost and cleaner energy by 2020 ... The retirements, which include about 1,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity previously slated for idling, mean TVA will have idled or retired about 2,700 megawatts of its 17,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity by the end of 2017. The capacity will be replaced with low-emission or zero-emission electricity sources, including renewable energy, natural gas, nuclear power and energy efficiency.
As Ben Jervey explains, despite the cheery, forward-looking language used in the press release, this decision is the result of a years-long legal battle with green groups like the Sierra Club over the old polluting plants. He writes that the "agreement will officially resolve the legal challenges that the Sierra Club, the states, and the E.P.A. have been filing for years--all of which centered on charges that TVA had illegally extended the life of some of its coal plants without implementing modern pollution controls, as new laws demand."

And this will be a trend we see continue on in coming years -- better pollution regulations (or the mere promise of them) will make dirty old coal plants a huge, potentially expensive hassle to run. Power companies would rather take many offline than spend the cash to properly upgrade pollution controls to prevent them from being a serious health risk to Americans. And at this point, the faster we can take more coal plants offline, the better -- climate change isn't becoming any less of a threat ...

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More on Coal Pollution
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