Bill Williams
Special to WRCBtv.com

This is Part 3 in a 5-part series on TVA's future in power production, produced by WBIR, our NBC partner in Knoxville.

CALLEDONIA, MS (WRCB) - TVA President Tom Kilgore says some of the agency's aging coal plants may have to be shut down. One of the possible replacements is under construction at the John Sevier Fossil plant site near Rogersville, Tennessee.

The new plant will be an almost exact copy of a TVA plant currently in operation in Caledonia, Mississippi. It is a combined cycle combustion turbine plant that operates on natural gas.

Here's how it works. Fuel is burned in the combustion turbine to produce electricity. The hot exhaust gas heat is captured in a heat recovery steam generator in order to produce steam. The steam is then used to drive a second turbine, this one a steam turbine, to produce 50 percent more output.

"We're getting all the bang for the buck," said Terry Parker, an operator/technician at the Caledonia plant. "That's just it, we're leading the way.  This is the wave of the future."

When the plant near Rogersville is completed in about 18 months, TVA will be operating four combined cycle plants that are all very similar.  Each of them will have three jet-engine size combustion turbines.

Surprisingly, the turbines are exceptionally quiet.

TVA said these plants can be built quickly and relatively inexpensively. They operate cleanly and efficiently. 

Terry Parker is one of his employer's most vocal supporters. 

"TVA has come in here and they have done some major improvements, but they care and that's the point," Parker said. "They care about the people, and they care about the valley. It's a good thing."