Tennessee Valley Authority plans to shut down coal plants by 2035


File photo: Steam rises from a cooling tower on September 7, 2007 at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar nuclear power plant in Spring City, Tennessee, 50 miles south of Knoxville. REUTERS / Chris Baltimore

The Tennessee Valley Authority, a U.S. utility, on Monday confirmed plans to shut down four remaining coal-fired power plants by 2035, the year President Joe Biden wants the nation’s electricity grid to be carbon-free to fight climate change. .

TVA started using coal-fired power plants in the 1950s, but began to retire older, less efficient units, in line with its commitment to produce cleaner energy. In 2005, it produced 57% of its electricity with coal. By 2020, that percentage had fallen to 14% due to increased production from nuclear, natural gas, wind and solar.

Jeff Lyash, president and CEO of TVA, had said at an Atlantic Council event last week that he planned to continue phasing out coal-fired power plants over the next 15 years, but didn’t did not specify which ones.

A TVA official confirmed Monday that he plans to shut down the four remaining coal-fired power plants by 2035: the Shawnee plant in Kentucky and the plants in Cumberland, Gallatin and Kingston in Tennessee.

“These assets will all have reached the end of their lifecycle by then,” said Scott Brooks, a spokesperson for TVA. The plants have a combined capacity of over 6,000 megawatts.

In 2019, TVA voted to close another factory, Bull Run in Tennessee, by the end of 2023.

TVA’s board will likely discuss at a quarterly meeting on Thursday plans to withdraw the factories, including how to replace them, and take a final vote on the closures at a later date.

Replacing some of the power generation from coal-fired power plants with small modular nuclear reactors is a possibility, Lyash said, because old sites have access to water resources and the grid. Small nuclear power plants are considered by some to be a virtually emission-free source of energy, but none have yet been built for commercial purposes.

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