TVA to shut down 18 boilers at coal-fired plants in effort to go - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: TVA to shut down 18 boilers at coal-fired plants in effort to go greener

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Johnsonville Plant / courtesy Johnsonville Plant / courtesy

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- TVA Board member Mike Duncan hails from Inez, Kentucky; coal country. So he might not have surprised fellow Board members by criticizing TVA's landmark $3-5 billion settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding pollution from its fossil fuel power plants.

"This settlement is also with some outside groups," Duncan says.

"I did not envision this is part of what we should be doing. On a megawatt basis, it may be the most expensive (deal) that's occurred in the country."

TVA has spent almost $5 billion since 1977 to add scrubbers and other pollution control devices to the 59 boilers that generate almost two-thirds of the electricity it wholesales to power companies across the Southeastern United States.

"We realized we couldn't keep all our older coal plants on line," Chief Executive Officer Tom Kilgore says.

TVA has agreed to shut down 18 coal boilers at three power plants in over the next six years; ten at Johnsville, in Waverly, TN, six at Widows Creek, along the Guntersville Reservoir, and two at John Sevier, near Rogersville, TN.

"Those are not easy decisions," Kilgore says. "But I think it's the right thing to do."

TVA plans to make up for the generation capacity lost by expanding use of solar, wind, hydro-electric, natural gas, and nuclear power. It also will invest $350 million toward initiatives to promote energy efficiency.

The shutdowns are expected to eliminate 200-400 jobs, Chief Operating Officer Bill McCollum told TVA Board members in Chattanooga Thursday.

"We believe there will be opportunities for people who want to stay with TVA, " McCollum says.

Some workers would remain at their respective plants during the phase-out. Others would fill positions vacated when employees retire. Still others may be able to retrain or move to another TVA facility.

"We don't anticipate reasonable people not being able to find a job in these tough times," Kilgore says.

In a news release, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson hails the settlement as a plan to "save lives and prevent billions of dollars in health care costs" treating lung ailments and diseases, by "keeping hundreds of thousands of tons of pollutants out of the air" and creating so-called "green job opportunities."

TVA has agreed to pay approximately $10 million in fines. Tennessee's share is about $1 million. Alabama and Kentucky each will receive about $500,000.

Unanswered, and as yet unanswerable, how much, or when, the costs of the fix will show up on your electric bill.

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