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Shawnee Fossil Plant

Shawnee Fossil Plant

TVA’s Shawnee Fossil Plant is located on 1,696 acres approximately 10 miles northwest of Paducah, Kentucky, at the confluence of the Ohio and Cumberland rivers.

Providing electricity to the region since 1953, this plant’s nine active units have a maximum generating capacity of more than 1,100 megawatts – enough to power more than 640,000 homes.

Unit 6 holds the national continuous operation record for a coal-fired power plant unit, operating without stopping for 1,093 days, 11 hours, 24 minutes. This achievement is a testament to the dedication of this team to keep power flowing to neighborhoods.

Shawnee employs about 224 area residents to safely provide affordable, reliable electricity to make life better for the people of the region.

Next door, TVA is pursuing a first-of-its-kind, 100-megawatt pilot solar generation project on a closed coal ash site, called Project Phoenix. This project supports TVA’s cleaner energy future and explores new opportunities to reuse coal ash sites for future generation. TVA is leading the industry in safety, securely closing coal ash sites and reusing them to advance clan energy goals. Learn more at

Shawnee Phoenix project


Shawnee Fossil Plant takes its name from the Shawnee Native American tribe.

TVA’s Civil Design Branch designed the site as a 10-unit plant, largely patterned after the Widows Creek Steam Plant. Construction of the first four units was authorized on Jan. 6, 1951. The plant's first unit began operation April 9, 1953. By October 1956, the last of the 10 units began operation.

At the time of completion in 1956, Shawnee was said to be the second-largest coal-fired plant in the U.S., behind the TVA Kingston site.

The location for the site is largely attributed to the influence of Alben W. Barkley, U.S. vice president from 1949-53 under President Harry S. Truman.

The Shawnee site’s initial purpose was to fill the national defense industry's escalating demand for power, particularly at the nearby Atomic Energy Commission's Paducah uranium enrichment plant, which produced enriched uranium from 1952 to 2013. At one time, the Paducah plant had been TVA’s third-largest customer, behind the cities of Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee. The Shawnee plant also provided economic growth to the area in the post-World War II era, creating jobs and a stronger infrastructure to support future state developments.

In the 1980s, TVA piloted a new combustion technology that burns solid fuels, which resulted in the conversion of Shawnee’s Unit 10 from a pulverized coal boiler to an atmospheric fluidized bed combustion boiler. Unit 10’s new design began operation in May 1991.

In 2010, TVA idled Unit 10 and then officially retired it in 2014. The Unit 10 generator stator – the stationary part of the rotating electric generator system – was moved from Shawnee to the Kingston Fossil Plant for reuse in Unit 1, shipped by barge along the Tennessee River. The plants are similar in construction, which made the transplant of the 200-ton Siemens-Westinghouse generator stator possible.

In 2016, Shawnee Fossil Plant earned a spot in the National Register of Historic Places in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, given its historical association with TVA’s post-World War II development of its fossil steam plant program beginning in 1951.

Shawnee Historical photo

Community involvement

TVA built Shawnee Fossil Plant to serve its community with electricity, but the enterprise’s mission of service goes well beyond the plant’s boundaries.

The team members at Shawnee often provide tours to students, educating them about power production. The team also hosts food drives, school supply drives and, every Christmas, a toy drive. The Shawnee team has sponsored the Paducah Out of Darkness Walk to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, as well as supporting the Maiden Alley Cinema, a local nonprofit.

Facts & Figures

  • Shawnee Fossil Plant has nine active units
  • Unit 6 holds the national continuous operation record for a coal-fired power plant unit: 1,093 days, 11 hours, 24 minutes
  • The plant has a summer net generating capacity of 1,206 megawatts – enough to power more than 640,000 homes
  • Shawnee generates approximately 8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year
  • The plant takes its name from the Shawnee Native American tribe
  • At completion in 1956, Shawnee was said to be the second-largest coal-fired plant in the U.S., behind the TVA Kingston site

Protecting the Environment

TVA strives to reduce environmental impacts from burning coal. Its specialists continuously monitor air and water quality to ensure the health and safety of the public.

Shawnee Fossil Plant uses about 14,600 tons of coal a day and has a variety of environmental protections in place.

In 2017, workers completed construction on Units 1 and 4 scrubbers, an informal name for a flue gas desulfurization system that removes up to 96% of sulfur dioxide emissions. They also completed the installation of a selective catalytic reduction system, designed to remove up to 86% of nitrogen oxides from the flue gas leaving the plant.

Construction for additional selective catalytic reduction systems for Units 2, 3, 7 and 8 are ongoing.

Shawnee Plant

To learn how TVA handles coal ash, click here.