published Thursday, August 21st, 2014

TVA to replace Memphis coal plant with new gas generation

TVA's Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis
TVA's Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

KNOXVILLE — The Tennesee Valley Authority will replace the Allen coal plant in Memphis with a new natural gas-fired power plant by the end of 2018.

TVA directors today unanimously approved construction of a $975 million, combined-cycle gas plant to replace the power generated by the three-unit Allen Fossil Plant. TVA was under a consent agreement to either clean up or shutter the 55-year-old Allen plant by the end of 2018.

The Allen plant, originally built by the Memphis Light, Gas and Electric & Water municipal utility in 1959, was acquired by TVA in 1984.

TVA President Bill Johnson said the utility considered other sources of energy to replace Allen, including wind, solar and clean coal. But he said such replacement power was anywhere from 80 to 360 percent more expensive than the combined-cycle gas plant.

"This natural gas plant will improve air quality in Memphis and that is important to the city's vitality and future economic development," he said. The new gas plant will cut carbon emissions by more than 60 percent and nitrogen oxides by 90 percent.

TVA considered building a bigger 1,400 megawatt gas plant. But the plant to be built by TVA will be about 1,000 megawatts to give TVA other options for buying alternative power.

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