Decommissioning Update: Widows Creek

A storied fossil plant comes safely down as a new Google data center goes up in northeast Alabama.

Situated on the Tennessee River in northeast Alabama, Widows Creek Fossil Plant began generating power in 1952. For several decades, the plant boasted an eight-unit generation facility and was one of TVA’s largest fossil plants in the fleet, capable of producing 1,800 megawatts. Because of a changing regulatory and economic climate, Widows Creek Fossil began to scale back generation in 2012.

By October 2015, all units were decommissioned, beginning the tedious preparation for the plant’s deconstruction, which will now take place over the next few years.

Today, the plant is being safely dismantled by the Generation Construction, Projects & Services D4 team. The site currently employs a dozen TVA oversight personnel and approximately 150 contractors. In the next few months, Brandenburg employees under the oversight of TVA personnel will demolish all of the structures and buildings on the site, except the two switchyards.

“We are approximately five months into a 35-month effort,” says Randy Rogers, site construction manager. “The project will continue until our anticipated finish date in 2021, and then site restoration to brownfield conditions will continue another year.”

The original coal barge tower structure is scheduled to be taken down within a few months. The precipitators that once caught fly ash in the flue gas path of Units 1 through 6 are currently being removed, and other structures will be removed in a deliberate sequence.

Perhaps the most anticipated piece of the deconstruction project is the detonation of Widows Creek 1,000-foot stack. This milestone in the project is set to take place in the fall of 2020, near the end of the demolition effort. 

“The decommissioning of a site of this magnitude takes time, planning and meticulous work,” says Roger Waldrep, general manager of decommissioning for TVA. “We work deliberately and safely to deliver a finished product that creates a landscape that is ready for redevelopment.”

A Google data center is already being constructed on a portion of the site.