July 15, 2020 -- Imagine a piece of prime real estate with riverfront access and all the amenities, and you can help shape its future. That’s the opportunity unfolding for the community in Anderson County, Tennessee as discussions begin on the future of the Bull Run Fossil Plant site after it closes in 2023.
While our team at Bull Run will continue to produce reliable, low-cost electricity for the Valley until the closure date, we are also starting discussions with community leaders about what happens next. A conceptual rendering of the site includes space for redevelopment and public green space, among other ideas. The rendering was developed to kickstart conversations and discuss the possibilities, according to John Bradley, TVA’s senior vice president for Economic Development.
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“We work every day with communities all over the valley on economic development efforts,” Bradley said. “The actual development may not look like what’s in the rendering now, depending on decisions that TVA and the community make, but we believe it’s important to start the process early, while being respectful of the employees at Bull Run.”
Local power companies in the area, including Clinton Utilities Board and the Oak Ridge Electric Department, will be major partners in the long-term plan.
One of TVA’s core missions is being a leader in economic development, and we have a strong record of attracting and retaining some of the biggest corporate names in manufacturing, aerospace and defense, technology and transportation.
In the last five years, TVA has helped recruit roughly $53 billion worth of investment into the Tennessee Valley, bringing with it more than 350,000 jobs.
“Our success stems from leveraging strong partnerships with state and local economic development professionals for maximum impact,” stated Bradley. “Companies are attracted to the Valley because of the competitive electric power rates, excellent reliability and capacity, quality of life, and business-friendly climate.”
The rendering suggests the current coal ash and gypsum storage at the site could be securely sealed in place and covered with low-impact solar panels, known as a solar blanket or power cap.
“We strive to be an industry leader in everything we do, and this includes considering and adopting new technology for the site,” said Scott Turnbow, TVA’s vice president for Civil Projects. “This is a concept for Bull Run and is dependent on how we might close these storage areas.”
Turnbow emphasized that TVA has not made any decisions on the storage of coal ash and gypsum at the site. Those decisions will be made after environmental studies under the direction of the state are complete.
Bradley said the possibility of solar energy makes the site attractive to business. “Industries these days are always looking for green power sources and we want to make sure we can be competitive and attract businesses.”
For example, a new Google data center is on the site of TVA’s retired Widow’s Creek Fossil Plant where we are adding 200 megawatts of solar to help power the center.
While it’s too early to say what the site can offer, Bradley said the site has a number of assets that make it attractive to potential businesses, such as existing infrastructure - a rail line and a source of water that already has the necessary permit – as well as the availability of reliable TVA power.
Turnbow estimates the site could be ready for development in 2028, depending on the outcome of environmental reviews and the closure option for coal ash at the site.
“This effort will take time, but it is important to start the conversation now with our neighbors, Turnbow said. “Our core missions at TVA include energy, environment, and economic development and this project perfectly demonstrates our steadfast commitment to all three.”
On July 23, 2020, TVA hosted its first virtual open house to highlight TVA’s mission of service through energy, environment, and economic development efforts and their impact throughout the Tennessee Valley. Additionally, we shared information relating to the Bull Run Fossil plant closure process, our safe management of coal ash, power grid changes in the Haw Ridge area, and the future potential redevelopment opportunities for the site post-closure.
We will continue to look for ways to stay connected with our neighbors and look for opportunities to host in-person meetings as the closure process continues and pandemic-related health concerns diminish.
The virtual open house is archived at this link: tva.com/tvaconnects.