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Breathing Easier at Shawnee

New air cleaning equipment being installed on Shawnee Fossil Plant's units 1 and 4 is designed to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by 96 and 90 percent respectively.

SEPTEMBER 9, 2016—In an era of fossil downsizing, TVA has been taking a hard look at its coal plants, choosing to retain only those assets that are most needed and productive—and worthy of the investment in clean air equipment it will take to keep them running for the long term.

Shawnee Fossil Plant in Paducah, Ky., is one such keeper. A true powerhouse of a plant, it has 9 units capable of generating 1,206 MW—a number that’s on par with a nuclear unit. Yet each of its 9 units is relatively small, allowing for maximum flexibility, which is critical to TVA during peaking periods in summer and winter when power must go on the grid quickly, then come off quickly, too.

In order to keep the plant running and in compliance with current environmental mandates, TVA is investing an estimated $205 million in clean-air technology designed reduce emissions at the plant, says Keith McMillion, general manager of Shawnee Fossil General Construction Projects.

Currently, work is under way to install selective catalytic reduction systems (SCRs) to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and spray dryer absorber (SDA) scrubbers to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions on Shawnee units 1 and 4. These environmental controls will reduce NOx emissions by approximately 90 percent, and SO2 emissions by as much as 96 percent, and will be in place before December of 2017.

The units are part of TVA’s agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency and a consent decree with the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and North Carolina, and three environmental advocacy groups, including the Sierra Club.

According to McMillion, the project is about 35 percent complete, with the concrete foundation for the Unit 4 SCR and SDA ready to go, the first of two tower cranes are in place and two of three power distribution centers required by construction equipment are set and ready to go. That's good progress on a huge undertaking—one that will have positive benefits for the people of the Valley.