TVA ready for change, Lamar Alexander opposes it

TVA ready for change, Lamar Alexander opposes it

September 21st, 2013 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

TVA logo

TVA logo

The Tennessee Valley Authority derives about half of its electrical generation from its coal-fired plants, but TVA expects little, if any, impact from the new EPA rules since the federal utility has no plans to build new coal-fired generation.

TVA spokesman Mike Bradley said TVA officials "have been anticipating for many years that new coal-fired generation would have to have some form of cost-prohibitive carbon controls." New gas-fired generation added by TVA in recent years has better control technologies and to meet a 2011 settlement with EPA, TVA is planning to add scrubbers and selective catalytic system controls on those coal units it plans to keep.

"New gas-fired generation has economic advantages to new coal capacity even without coal carbon control requirements," Bradley said. "For these reasons, this rule has little impact on current TVA planning."

Bradley said TVA "hedged its carbon risk by adding a new combined cycle combustion turbine plant at John Sevier, new nuclear at Watts Bar Unit 2 along with other clean energy solutions."

Existing coal plans will be grandfathered in under existing carbon limits, officials said.

Nonetheless, the new EPA rules are expected to boost the cost of any new coal-fired generation and, as a consequence, could help push up overall electricity prices on the wholesale grid.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, denounced the president's proposal Friday.

""The Obama administration must think our country, which uses 20 to 25 percent of all the electricity in the world, can operate on windmills," Alexander said in a statement Friday. "For most power plants there is no proven, commercially viable way to capture and store or reuse carbon emissions. This regulation, therefore, will drive up prices and drive down job growth. It is one more big, wet blanket on the American economy."