The nation’s largest public power utility continued its industry-leading path to a cleaner energy future as the Tennessee Valley Authority completed its environmental review and is moving forward with building new lower-emission, natural gas-fueled combustion turbines at shuttered coal plants in Tuscumbia, Alabama and Paradise, Kentucky. The new units will replace capacity from retiring CT units elsewhere on the system.
“As we continue to evolve our generation portfolio, natural gas is the right choice at this time because it provides the flexibility and reliability we need to add more solar energy,” said Jacinda Woodward, senior vice president, Power Operations. “Current and retired coal plant sites are prime locations for new gas generation because the electrical infrastructure is already in place.”
In total, TVA plans to invest $1 billion to build three new CT units at Paradise and three units at Colbert for a system total of 1,500 megawatts. The new units will bring in about 185 jobs at each location to prepare each site and construct the units.
Currently, TVA operates 108 natural gas and fuel oil-fired generators at 17 sites—nine in Tennessee, five in Mississippi, one in Alabama and two in Kentucky. Together, they have a generation capacity of over 12,000 megawatts—enough to power about 7 million homes.
Woodward explains that natural gas is an essential part of TVA’s cleaner energy future. “It’s important to remember that solar power is an intermittent generation source—natural gas delivers reliable electricity even when the sun doesn’t shine.”
For this reason, TVA will continue to consider natural gas as an option for replacement generation as it considers closing its remaining coal fleet while adding about 10,000 megawatts of new solar by 2035.
“TVA is a national leader, with 63% carbon-free generation and nearly 50% more renewable energy generation than our next closest regional peer,” said Woodward. “Natural gas helps us achieve a 70% reduction in emissions by 2030, 80% by 2035 and we believe it is possible, with new technologies, to achieve net-zero by 2050.”