Cumberland Fossil Plant
Cumberland Fossil Plant is situated on 1,425 acres along the shores of Barkley Lake in Stewart County, Tennessee. The plant is about 20 miles southwest of Clarksville, Tennessee, and is accessible from state Route 149.
With a maximum rated gross output of 2,470 megawatts, this two-unit plant is the largest generating asset in the TVA coal fleet. Cumberland generates approximately 16 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year – enough to supply more than 1.4 million homes.
Cumberland currently employs about 245 area residents to safely provide affordable, reliable electricity and make life better for the people of the Valley.
TVA is working toward a cleaner energy future, which means a reduced reliance on coal. In January 2023, TVA made the decision to retire Cumberland Fossil Plant in two stages, with one unit retiring by the end of 2026 and the second unit by the end of 2028.
Before the first unit retires, TVA will build a 1,450-megawatt combined cycle plant on the Cumberland reservation, slated for operation by 2026 to maintain reliable, uninterrupted power to customers. Replacement generation for the second unit has been deferred to allow consideration for a broader range of replacement options. Learn more at tva.com/nepa.
TVA built Cumberland Fossil Plant to help meet increased electric power requirements in its service area. Construction began March 3, 1968, and wrapped up five years later at a cost of $410 million.
The first unit went into commercial operation in March 1973 and the second in November 1973. The plant’s two 1,300-megawatt units were the largest units ever ordered when they were purchased. They had “little resemblance” to the 125-megawatt units designed 20 years prior. Towering 1,001 feet, the original chimneys – built in 1970 – are two of the tallest chimneys in the world.
TVA specialists originally selected the site as the best option for a fossil plant because it was well-suited to receive coal, either by barge or by rail, and because of its location near the West Kentucky coalfields. Its central location in the northern portion of the TVA service territory also proved crucial to system power requirements at the time of construction.
TVA built Cumberland Fossil Plant to serve electricity to the community, but the enterprise’s mission of service goes beyond plant boundaries.
The Cumberland team has issued more than $20,000 in STEM grants to surrounding schools, as well as partnering with North Stewart Elementary School and Erin Elementary School to provide robot kits to students.
The team also supported the Christmas Angel Program at Highland Rim Head Start of Stewart, Houston, Humphries, and Dickson counties, as well as supplying holiday gifts to 229 “angels.” With support from the Local 429 IBEW, the team provided 75 food baskets to families in need.
Cumberland’s team members are often out in local communities, participating in celebrations and festivals. Recently, they hosted a booth at the Dover Annual Eagle Fest.
Facts & Figures
- The two-unit plant is the largest generating asset in the TVA coal fleet
- Towering 1,001 feet, the original chimneys, built in 1970, are two of the tallest chimneys in the world
- The plant’s maximum rated gross output is 2,470 megawatts
- Cumberland generates approximately 16 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, enough to supply more than 1.4 million homes
- The first unit went into commercial operation in March 1973, followed by the second unit in November 1973
- Construction began March 3, 1968, and finished five years later at a cost of $410 million
- A fishing area located near the plant’s water discharge is open to the public
- Cumberland Fossil Plant takes its name from the Cumberland River
- Cumberland’s gypsum, a coal byproduct, is said to be the purest in the world. It’s used to produce wallboard at a nearby Georgia Pacific plant.
Protecting the Environment
TVA works to reduce environmental impacts from burning coal, and its specialists continuously monitor air and water quality to ensure the health and safety of the public.
Cumberland Fossil Plant, which uses about 20,000 tons of coal a day, is designed to ensure maximum environmental protection.
Both Cumberland units are equipped with wet limestone scrubbers capable of removing more than 95% of the sulfur dioxide from plant emissions. In spring 2003, TVA commissioned for Unit 1 a selective catalytic reduction system capable of reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 90%. The Unit 2 selective catalytic reduction system, commissioned in spring 2004, can also remove 90% of nitrogen oxide emissions.
The Cumberland plant is also active in byproduct sales of gypsum and fly ash used as raw manufacturing material. In fact, Georgia Pacific runs a wallboard plant near the site – the company uses Cumberland's high-quality gypsum in its manufacturing process. Fly ash is used by area companies for road construction.
To learn more about how TVA handles coal ash, click here