TVA ignores clean energy solutions, doubles down on dirty fossil fuels with proposal to replace Kingston Fossil Plant with new gas plant
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In a disappointing move, the Tennessee Valley Authority today announced its preferred plan is to replace its Kingston Fossil Plant with a new gas power plant. While the retirement of the aging and polluting coal plant is long overdue, the reckless proposal to swap one fossil fuel for another will worsen the impacts of climate change and lead to volatile power bills for families throughout the Tennessee Valley.
As the nation’s largest federal utility, TVA is uniquely positioned to be a leader in the clean energy transition. However, TVA’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement overlooks a key opportunity to make meaningful investments in renewable energy.
Replacing the Kingston Fossil Plant with a mix of solar power, wind power, battery storage, and energy efficiency programs would help fight climate change while lowering power bills for TVA’s ten million customers. Renewable energy technology is, in many cases, already more cost-effective than fossil fuels, and the billions of dollars of historic clean energy incentives recently passed by Congress would create even more savings for families throughout the utility’s footprint.
Instead, TVA appears to prefer spending billions of dollars on new gas infrastructure that will handcuff customers to paying expensive fossil fuel prices for decades, even as the price of clean energy continues to fall. A new gas plant would also make TVA even more over-reliant on fossil fuels. Coal and gas plants – including gas plants built as recently as 2012 – failed during the 2022 Christmas Eve winter storm, causing rolling blackouts across the Tennessee Valley.
The Kingston Fossil Plant is the site of the largest industrial spill in U.S. history. In 2008, an earthen dam outside of the facility broke, spilling more than a billion gallons of toxic coal ash into nearby neighborhoods, homes, and waterways. At least 400 people who worked to clean up TVA’s toxic mess became sick, and more than 60 have died. TVA’s decision to double-down on dirty fossil fuels ignores a critically important opportunity to build clean energy sources in a community that has for decades suffered the dangerous impacts of fossil fuels.
Below are statements from the Southern Environmental Law Center, Appalachian Voices, and Sierra Club:
“The retirement of the Kingston Fossil Plant provides the Tennessee Valley Authority with an incredible opportunity become a leader in the clean energy transition. Instead, the federal utility’s preferred option to double down on dirty fossil fuels is a significant step backwards,” SELC Tennessee Office Director Amanda Garcia said. “Building new gas plants will worsen the impacts of climate change, create a less resilient power grid, and will force families across the Tennessee Valley to pay expensive fossil fuel prices for decades. We urge the TVA Board to take a critical look at this proposal. It is vitally important to the future of our communities that TVA reverse course and invest in cheaper and cleaner renewable energy sources instead.”
“Ratepayers in the Valley are concerned about reliability and TVA needs a diverse energy portfolio in order to provide that assurance to our region. Right now, only 3% of TVA’s power comes from wind and solar combined, and TVA is choosing to build more of the same methane gas resource that failed during Winter Storm Elliot. TVA could add significantly more jobs and improve our power supply by replacing the Kingston plant with a mix of renewable, battery storage, and energy efficiency technologies,” Brianna Knisley, Tennessee Campaign Manager for Appalachian Voices said.
“Today’s proposal is yet another indication that TVA is moving beyond coal, but might get stuck in the past with gas,” said Amy Kelly, Senior Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Tennessee. “One less coal plant in the Tennessee Valley means cleaner air, safer water, and progress toward reducing climate-disrupting emissions, but replacing coal with another fossil fuel gas plant makes no economic and environmental sense. In the environmental study released today, TVA is favoring new methane gas plants and miles of pipeline instead of affordable and reliable clean power. If TVA continues on this path, it would commit our electric grid to yet another polluting fossil fuel. That is the opposite of reliable, affordable electricity that spurs economic development.”
Are you a reporter and would like more information? Please visit our press contact page for a full list of SELC’s press contacts.