Utility recommends natural gas plant despite objections

Dec 1, 2022, 11:26 PM | Updated: Dec 2, 2022, 2:47 pm
FILE - Tennessee Valley Authority President Jeffrey Lyash speaks with the Times Free Press from the...

FILE - Tennessee Valley Authority President Jeffrey Lyash speaks with the Times Free Press from the TVA Chattanooga Office Complex on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tenn. The nation's largest public utility has proposed building a $216 million solar farm project in Kentucky atop a capped coal ash storage pit at one of its coal-fired power plants. The federal Tennessee Valley Authority voted Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022 to advance the initiative at Shawnee Fossil Plant in Paducah. (C.B. Schmelter/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP, File)

(C.B. Schmelter/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The nation’s largest public utility on Friday recommended replacing an aging coal burning power plant with natural gas, ignoring calls for the Tennessee Valley Authority to speed its transition to renewable energy.

TVA announced the completion of its environmental impact statement for replacing the Cumberland Fossil Plant near Cumberland City, Tennessee. The federally owned utility considered replacing the two coal-fired turbines there with solar panels but instead recommended a combined-cycle natural gas plant.

Solar and battery storage would be more costly, requiring transmission upgrades that could take a decade to complete, according to a news release from TVA. The decision still needs the approval of TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash, who has previously spoken in favor of natural gas.

“Our focus is on ensuring that we provide affordable, reliable, resilient, and clean energy for generations to come,” Lyash said in the news release.

TVA’s plan would idle one unit of the coal plant by the end of 2026 and the second by the end of 2028. The utility says a natural gas plant there could be built and operational by 2026, with construction beginning as early as summer 2023.

The announcement drew backlash from groups that include the Center for Biological Diversity.

“TVA’s plan to build a new gas plant and pipeline in the midst of climate catastrophe is reckless,” Gaby Sarri-Tobar, with the group’s energy justice program, said in a statement. “This is a slap in the face to the 10 million customers who rely on TVA and makes a mockery of the Biden administration’s clean energy pledges.”

President Joe Biden has said he wants a carbon-pollution-free energy sector by 2035. TVA has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2035, compared with 2005 levels.

Scientists, meanwhile, have warned that failing to meet Biden’s 2035 target will only lead to more intense and more frequent extreme weather events, as well as droughts, floods and wildfires. Teams of meteorologists across the world have predicted there is nearly a 50-50 chance that Earth will temporarily hit a global warming temperature threshold international agreements are trying to prevent within the next five years.

The TVA board of directors last year delegated any decision on Cumberland’s replacement to Lyash. He has said TVA will not be able to meet the 100% reduction goal without technological advances in energy storage, carbon capture and small modular nuclear reactors. The utility has its own aspirational goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

Those opposing the construction of a new gas plant have pointed out it will likely be around for decades, long past the 2035 decarbonization goal. They have also criticized TVA for not considering options that could decrease the demand for new electricity like improved energy efficiency and demand response — which helps customers change their usage patterns to flatten peak demand periods.

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, has emerged in legislative hearings as a key critic of TVA. He said the utility should not be moving forward on the Cumberland decision while Biden’s nominees for its board await Senate confirmation. Their installation would create a new board majority.

“The Tennessee Valley Authority is showing yet again that it is willing to lock its customers into expensive and volatile fossil fuel generation, rather than take this opportunity to adopt reliable renewable energy,” Markey said in a statement Friday. “As the largest public power company in the country, the TVA has a responsibility to be a leader, not a laggard, in delivering clean, affordable power to its customers.”

Meanwhile, a permit application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is still pending for a 32-mile (51-kilometer) natural gas pipeline branch to link to the proposed new Cumberland plant. Kinder Morgan Inc. said one of its subsidiaries filed the application in July. Pending regulatory approval, construction would begin in August 2024, with an expected September 2025 for the pipeline to be in service, the company said.

TVA provides electricity to 10 million people in Tennessee and parts of the surrounding states of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Bottles of Pepsi are displayed in a grocery store, Ill., Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. PepsiCo reports t...
Associated Press

Pepsi sales rise 10% in the fourth quarter on price hikes

PepsiCo reported better-than-expected sales in the fourth quarter after hiking prices for its drinks and snacks. Revenue rose more than 10% to $28 billion. That was better than the $26.8 billion Wall Street had forecast, according to analysts polled by FactSet. Pepsi’s net income fell 60% to $535 million, largely due to a $1.5 billion […]
1 day ago
FILE - Maryland Gov. Wes Moore gives his first state of the state address, two weeks after being sw...
Associated Press

Maryland governor, officials supporting abortion protections

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland Gov. Wes Moore and state lawmakers are scheduled to announce support Thursday for measures protecting abortion rights, including a state constitutional amendment that would enshrine it. House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate President Bill Ferguson, who are both Democrats, will join the governor at a news conference to show their […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Earthquake hits Indonesia, killing 4 as restaurant collapses

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A shallow earthquake shook Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua on Thursday, killing four people who were unable to escape when a floating restaurant collapsed into the sea. The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 5.1 earthquake hit residential areas in Jayapura, near Papua’s northern coast and was centered at a depth […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

US, French troops in Romania hold NATO military drills

CAPU MIDIA, Romania (AP) — U.S. and French troops that are part of a NATO battlegroup in Romania will hold a military exercise on Thursday to test the 30-nation alliance’s eastern flank defenses, as Russia’s full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine nears its one-year anniversary. The joint combat drills at the Black Sea training range in […]
1 day ago
FILE - An electronic sign flashes "Watch for unexpected pedestrians," Dec. 20, 2022, on the highway...
Associated Press

Supreme Court might have easy outs on elections, immigration

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court soon could find itself with easy ways out of two high-profile cases involving immigration and elections, if indeed the justices are looking to avoid potentially messy, divisive decisions. Off-ramps in those cases could prove attractive in a term with no shortage of big cases that could divide the court’s […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Swedish central bank again raises key rate to hit inflation

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden’s central bank on Thursday raised a key interest rate by half a percentage point, saying inflation “is far too high and has continued to rise.” Riksbanken has followed other central banks around the world by enacting large interest rate hikes to tamp down price spikes that have consumers paying more for […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Utility recommends natural gas plant despite objections