Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Coal Power: TVA Agrees to Phase out 18 Units, Shift to Cleaner Fuels

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Coal Power: TVA Agrees to Phase out 18 Units, Shift to Cleaner Fuels

Article excerpt

Tennessee Valley Authority says it will phase out 18 older coal- fired generators at three power plants by 2020. Natural-gas and biomass units will replace the coal power as part of a TVA settlement over clean-air violations.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, one of America's largest utilities, said Thursday it plans to close 18 older coal-fired power generators at three plants as part of a court settlement in which it will pay $10 million in fines for violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

When completed, the shutdowns will be one of the largest single closures of coal-fired units since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began, in the 1990s, to require emissions controls on older plants, observers say. The plan also marks a shift toward cleaner forms of energy, company officials said.

As it phases out the coal generators by 2020, TVA will replace them with modern natural-gas and biomass-fired power plants, cutting emissions of smog and acid-rain forming gases and slashing greenhouse-gas emissions. The company also will pay to improve energy efficiency across the region.

The impact of the closures will be felt in a number of states and national parks. Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina had supported the EPA lawsuit, along with the National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club, and Our Children's Earth Foundation. Thursday's announcement ends a decade-long court battle.

"For decades, the Smoky Mountains [National Park] has suffered from a slow motion crisis," said Don Barger, senior regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association. "Air pollution from TVA's coal-fired power plants has degraded scenic vistas, damaged plant species, and impaired human health. Today's settlement halts that trend and sends us in the right direction."

In its announcement, TVA said the closures - at two plants in Tennessee and one in Alabama - will help it reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, a component of acid rain, by 97 percent from 1977 levels. …

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