TVA Pays Up By Closing Coal Plants, Shifting To Renewable Energy Sources

The 2008 coal ash flood may have cast a long shadow on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s tactics, but the association has recently begun to pursue more sustainable methods of cultivating power.

As part of a court settlement, the TVA said it plans to pay $10 million in fines for violations to the federal Clean Air Act and shut down 18 of its dirtiest coal-fired power plants within the next six years.

Considered to be a victory by environmental groups, this decision marks the largest shutdown of coal-fired plants in the country, says 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,” said Don Barger, senior regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association, told the Christian Science Monitor.

According to CBS news, TVA also agreed to modernize pollution control systems on three dozen units in the southeast of the state and invest $350 million in programs designed to help customers conserve energy in Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee.


The Christian Science Monitor reports TVA will retire 2,700 megawatts of coal-fired electricity and replace it with “low-emission or zero-emission electricity sources.” This includes renewable energy, natural gas, nuclear power and promoting energy efficiency.

So far, TVA has spent millions of dollars fighting lawsuits from environmental groups, citizens and the EPA over their excessive air pollution. However, now that TVA claims it will cut back on its coal generation, some groups have agreed to a truce, reports WTVC News:

“So now, as long as we made these commitments, we have that assurance from most of the parties going forward that we're done," said TVA senior vice president Anda Ray.


Bruce Niles, deputy conservation director for the Sierra Club, looks towards a hopeful future, reports WTVC News:

“Coal has operated under a bunch of regulatory loopholes that no other industry enjoys, those days are coming to an end.”