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TVA Will Keep Burning Coal at All Units of Western Kentucky Power Plant


Coal will continue to be burned at all of the units at a large power plant in Western Kentucky. The Tennessee Valley Authority’s board of directors voted today to install pollution controls on two units at the Shawnee Fossil Plant near Paducah.

Shawnee was built in the 1950s. The plant has nine coal-fired units; seven of them have already been retrofitted to comply with stricter federal air pollution regulations.

TVA’s board of directors was considering three options for the remaining two units: convert them to biomass, retire them or install advanced pollution controls and keep burning coal. They decided retrofitting the units made the most economic sense.

The Sierra Club had targeted Shawnee as part of the group’s “Beyond Coal” campaign. A Sierra Club alert sent out earlier this month urged supporters to submit public comments urging TVA to retire the units.

“Instead of propping up this outdated and dirty coal plant with ratepayer money, TVA can take advantage of cleaner, cheaper and healthier alternatives to coal, like better efficiency and renewable technologies,” the email said.

In an environmental assessment, TVA determined that whether the company retired or retrofitted the two units at Shawnee, there wouldn’t be a significant environmental impact.

The new controls at Shawnee will be installed in the next three years, and will cost the company about $185 million. They’ll reduce nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions.