Close the coal plants, investors urge TVA

on Sep 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

Published by the Paris Post-Intelligencer

The coal war goes on within Tennessee Valley Authority. In the long run, what’s the better fuel for generating electricity, coal or nuclear?

TVA could reduce residential power rates by 30 percent by retiring its oldest and dirtiest coal plants and finishing its incomplete nuclear plants, an investor group calculates.

That sharply contrasts with the plan TVA directors approved last month. The agency’s board proposed to spend $10.3 billion to upgrade coal plants next year while raising consumer power bills by 1.5 percent.

An investment group that includes a former TVA chairman, backed by energy experts at Credit Suisse, calculates that closing all but the Cumberland and Kingston steam plants would save the $8 billion it will take to scrub and maintain old plants.

The group proposes to provide $10 billion in outside financing, which combined with the savings in steam plant costs would provide for getting nuclear plants on line.

TVA estimates that coal plants, even with the extra expense of mandated pollution controls, are less expensive to operate than nuclear plants.

The adversaries have different projections for calculating future costs and savings.

For now, government officials are keeping hands off the debate. They say the decision is up to TVA’s board.

“Nothing has been more important to the rising economic health of the Tennessee Valley in the past eighty years than the Tennessee Valley Authority,” Sen. Lamar Alexander said.

“As a former governor who spent a lot of my time recruiting new businesses in Tennessee, I know how important keeping electricity rates low is to helping businesses get our economy moving again.

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