The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on Wednesday announced a proposal to retire its Allen Fossil Plant and replace it with a natural gas facility. TVA will hold a public open house to share details about the proposed retirement, as well as potential alternatives for electricity supply.
The announcement of the draft environmental assessment comes as a result of a settlement reached in 2011 between TVA, the EPA, as well as several states and public interest groups, including the Sierra Club, to end the region’s reliance on coal and move the Valley towards cleaner, safer energy sources. The settlement required the retirement of over 2,700 megawatts of coal-fired generation, while also considering the installation of pollution controls or the retirement of other coal units, such as Allen, by 2018.
In a statement, the Sierra Club supported TVA’s proposal to retire the coal facility, while encouraging TVA to replace it with clean, renewable energy rather than natural gas. Scott Banbury, Conservation Program coordinator for Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club, issued this statement:
“The Sierra Club supports TVA’s decision to retire the Allen Coal Plant, the biggest polluter in Shelby County. TVA’s action makes clear that coal is an outdated fuel source, which no longer belongs in our energy mix.
“The Allen coal plant creates smog that threatens all Memphians. Shelby County has some of the worst air quality in the region, exceeding safety limits set by the EPA, and resulting in Memphis being ranked the ‘Asthma Capital of the U.S.’ by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
“The best path forward is replacing the Allen coal plant with energy efficiency measures and renewable power sources like wind and solar. Investments in clean energy will protect the health of our families, lower energy bills, and create high paying jobs in Memphis. TVA doesn’t have to trade coal for natural gas, another expensive fossil fuel which pollutes our air.
“Retiring coal plants requires serious consideration of TVA workers and communities that have depended on them in the past. TVA has a track record of taking these issues seriously, and they should continue to find ways of providing effective transitions for effected workers.
“From coast to coast, the United States is retiring outdated coal plants. Retiring the Allen coal plant will help Tennessee further America’s path to lower carbon emissions. Our country has led the world in action on climate disruption, lowering our carbon pollution output more than any other country.
“As TVA makes this important move to clean up and modernize, the Sierra Club looks forward to working together to shape the company’s future around clean energy choices that bring safe, profitable, and lasting jobs to Memphis.”