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TVA to spend $1 billion building 1,500 MW of gas turbines

July 13, 2021

by Peter Maloney
APPA News
July 13, 2021

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) plans to invest $1 billion to build three new gas-fired combustion turbines totaling 1,500 megawatts (MW)

The planned gas turbines are being built at the site of shuttered coal plants in Tuscumbia, Alabama, and Paradise, Kentucky, and will replace combustion turbines scheduled for retirement.

The new plants will bring in about 185 jobs at each location to prepare each site and construct the units, TVA said.

“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,” Jacinda Woodward, senior vice president of power operations at TVA, said in a statement.

“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,” Woodward said. She added that TVA will continue to consider natural gas an option for replacement generation as it studies the closing of its remaining coal fleet while adding about 10,000 MW of new solar power by 2035.

“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,” Woodward said.

The plants scheduled for retirement are at TVA’s Allen Reservation on the Mississippi River, five miles southwest of Memphis, Tenn., and at the utility’s Johnsonville Reservation in Tennessee. The plants have a combined capacity of 1,400 MW and have “received little recent investment, are 40 or more years old and require replacement to ensure reliability,” according to TVA.

“Current and retired coal plant sites are prime locations for new gas generation because the electrical infrastructure is already in place,” Woodward said.

The new gas plants will require upgrades of the existing natural gas supplies, as well as connections to TVA’s existing transmission lines, including upgrades to those lines.

While the environmental assessment for the proposed plants was under review and open for comment, TVA noted that the most frequently mentioned comments related to climate impacts, environmental justice, analysis of alternatives, and cumulative impacts.

In its environmental assessment, TVA concluded that the proposed plants would not be “a major federal action significantly affecting the environment and issued a finding of no significant impact.”

TVA currently operates 108 natural gas and fuel oil-fired generators totaling more than 12,000 MW at 17 sites, nine in Tennessee, five in Mississippi, one in Alabama, and two in Kentucky.

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