Displaying items by tag: tva
Solar? Gas? Future of Kingston plant up in the air
KINGSTON — Tennessee Valley Authority is considering whether to go with gas or solar power after it closes the infamous Kingston Fossil Plant in Tennessee.
The plant has stood since 1955 in Roane County. The federal utility plans to close Kingston Fossil plant and is looking at ways to replace the power it generated. It’s asking the public for comments. The utility’s proposals center around replacing the power generated by the plant with either solar generation or natural gas. One option includes replacing the coal-powered plant at the site with a fossil gas plant.
TVA recently proposed to retire three units between 2026 and 2031 and the other six units between 2027 and 2033. Ash spilled from a dike at this plant in 2008. A lawsuit was recently resolved surrounding the health damage to people working on cleaning up the spill. TVA has identified trouble with starting up and shutting down the plant for power generation and technical issues with lower boilers as the reasons for closing the plant, not the spill.
Tennessee Aquarium welcomes 2,500 baby lake sturgeon as restoration effort turns 25 years old
Casey Phillips is a communications specialist at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga.
CHATTANOOGA — The approach of summer coincided with the arrival of thousands of juvenile lake sturgeon in the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute.
Biologists at the Aquarium’s freshwater field station welcomed 2,500, 2-inch babies into their care. After a steady diet of bloodworms and brine shrimp, bringing the fish to at least 6 inches, they will be reintroduced into the Tennessee River.
These tiny fish hold tremendous promise. Adult lake sturgeon may reach lengths of 8 feet and live 150 years.
“They start out really small, so it’s shocking to think how big they can get,” says reintroduction biologist Sarah Kate Bailey. “The first year of life is when they grow the quickest.
“They grow so fast while we have them here. You’ll go home for the day, come in the next morning, and they look like they’ve grown overnight.”
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Andrew Gunnoe helms spirited efforts to preserve beloved Little River but the current is swift
MARYVILLE — For 25 years, the handful of men and women involved with the nonprofit Little River Watershed Association (LRWA) have been protecting the crystal clear waters as they plummet from the Great Smoky Mountains before meandering through Blount County and merging with the Tennessee River.
“We see ourselves as the voice of the Little River, speaking for the river and its health,” said Andrew Gunnoe, president of the LRWA Board of Directors.
From the famous swimming hole at the Wye to the profusion of inner tube rental companies in Townsend, the Little River is one of the region’s most popular spots for water recreation. Further downstream, the waterway becomes an almost perfect spot for fishing, canoeing and kayaking.
For all the popularity as a recreation stop, the 59-mile stretch of water is also a vital habitat for numerous aquatic species and provides the 120,000-plus residents of Blount County with drinking water.
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Environmental groups sue Tennessee Valley Authority over proposed new power plant
This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.
NASHVILLE — A trio of environmental groups filed suit against the Tennessee Valley Authority, claiming the utility violated federal law by failing to properly evaluate climate, environmental and financial impacts of a proposed new gas-fired plant in Cumberland City, Tennessee.
The lawsuit, filed in a Nashville federal court this month, also claims that TVA quietly inked a deal with an international pipeline company to supply the gas-fired plant, even as it publicly went through the motions of seeking input on alternative sources of power to replace the Cumberland Fossil Plant, its aging coal-fire facility located about 60 miles northwest of Nashville.
The groups are seeking an immediate halt to construction on the gas plant and an order forcing the utility to revise the existing environmental impact study used as the basis for moving forward with the gas-fired plant.
“Our country’s largest utility has gamed the system to fast-track dirty energy projects and that’s why we’re going to court to stop it,” Gaby Sarri-Tobar, a campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “TVA needs to be held accountable for its reckless pursuit of a new fossil gas plant in the midst of the climate emergency.”
KNOXVILLE — Volunteer registration is open for the 34th Ijams River Rescue on Saturday, April 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. A severe weather date is set for Saturday, April 22.
Ijams Nature Center’s annual event removes tons of trash and tires from sites along the Tennessee River and its creek tributaries. Sites are typically located in Knox, Anderson, Blount and Loudon counties.
“During this cleanup, between 500-1,000 volunteers come together to make a tangible, positive difference in their community,” Ijams Development Director Cindy Hassil said. “It’s eye-opening to participate because you really get to see what ends up in our waterways. Hopefully it makes people more aware of how they dispose of trash and recyclables, and inspires them to look for ways to reduce the amount of waste they create.”
There are cleanup sites on land, along the shoreline (boots/waders recommended) and on the water (personal kayaks/canoes required).
GAO report concludes TVA is flat-footed on climate-change risks to infrastructure
This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.
WASHINGTON — Extreme weather patterns have sparked several improvements to the climate resiliency of Tennessee Valley Authority electrical infrastructure over the past two decades.
A report from a government watchdog, however, found the huge utility still has work to do in mitigating climate hazards to the regional power grid. (Bitter cold around Christmas led TVA to implement rolling blackouts).
“TVA has taken several steps to manage climate-related risks,” the Jan. 30 report from the Government Accountability Office said. “However, TVA has not conducted an inventory of assets and operations vulnerable to climate change, or developed a resilience plan that identifies and prioritizes resilience measures to address specific risks.”
One issue: The Southeast has experienced a period of accelerated warming since the 1960s. Among cities in the region, 61 percent are experiencing worsening heat waves, a percentage greater than anywhere else in the country, according to the GAO.
The report came in response to a five-part joint request for information on the climate resiliency of U.S. infrastructure, from U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Tom Carper of Delaware. The two Democrats sent their request to the GAO on May 13, 2019.
TVA solicits public input following release of environmental assessment for Bull Run Fossil Plant decommission
CLAXTON — Tennessee Valley Authority plans to close its Bull Run Fossil Plant (BRF) in Anderson County, but it’s still looking for public input on what comes next.
“As a large, inflexible coal unit with medium operating costs and a high forced outage rate, BRF does not fit current and likely future portfolio needs,” the federal utility said in a draft Environmental Assessment.
TVA is looking at three different options for the future of the structures still standing on the site by the Clinch River near Oak Ridge: taking down all structures; taking down some of them; or leaving everything standing. A recent report lays out the environmental consequences of each of these actions. The report, in draft form, is against that third choice, listing it as only an option for the sake of comparison.
“If the facility is left in the “as-is” condition, it likely would present a higher risk than Alternatives A or B for the potential to contaminate soil and groundwater as systems and structures degrade. As such, this alternative is not a reasonable alternative,” the draft states.
TVA stated its considering removing “all or most of the buildings and structures” on a 250-acre area. After closing the plant, but before any demolitions, TVA will begin by removing components that may be used at other TVA sites, draining of oil and fluids from equipment, taking ash out of the boilers, removing information technology assets, removing plant records and other tasks.
The Bull Run Environmental Assessment is 170 pages long and available for public review. It doesn’t directly tackle the coal ash storage conundrum that has grabbed the attention of politicians, nearby residents and environmental activists, because that issue involves separate regulations.
Networking environmental leaders across Appalachia and the State of Tennessee
Knoxville — APIEL is a relative newcomer to the small circle of inclusive U.S. public interest environmental law conferences. Because it is organized by law school student volunteers, APIEL is affordable to attend for students as well as citizens from all walks of life.
APIEL is much loved and considered essential by regional nonprofit leaders and activists. It is also highly acclaimed by seasoned environmental lawyers. With just 12 conferences under its belt, APIEL has risen to rank among leading peer conferences with a much longer track record, such as the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) at the University of Oregon School of Law (39 events), the Red Clay Conference at the University of Georgia School of Law (34) and the Public Interest Environmental Conference (PIEC) at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law (28).
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TVA’s Cumberland Fossil Plant near Clarksville is the subject of a suit filed by environmental groups, including Appalachian Voices and Southern Environmental Law Center. Tennessee Valley Authority
SELC, others file suit in hopes of dissuading TVA from future fossil options
This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.
CLARKSVILLE — On behalf of the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club and Appalachian Voices, the Southern Environmental Law Center asked TVA to prepare a supplemental environmental statement to address concerns with TVA’s draft environmental impact statement, which details the agency’s plans to retire the Cumberland Fossil Plant.
The Cumberland Fossil Plant, about 22 miles southwest of Clarksville, is TVA’s largest coal-fired power station and was built between 1968 and 1973. TVA plans to retire each unit of the two-unit, coal-fired steam-generation plant separately: one unit no later than 2030, and the second unit no later than 2033. But the plant will need to be replaced, and TVA is currently considering three alternatives to fossil fuel, including natural gas and solar energy, according to its draft EIS.
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Supreme Court air-pollution ruling calls into stark context all that must be done
This story was originally published by Tennessee Lookout.
KNOXVILLE — The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling limiting the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon emissions that cause climate change has renewed the spotlight on the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s largest public utility and Tennessee’s primary source of electricity.
The case involved EPA efforts to implement a key provision of the Clean Air Act in a challenge brought by 15 Republican-led states. That provision, which never went into effect, would have required existing power plants to shift from dirty sources of energy — such as coal — to cleaner sources, including solar and wind, as part of an urgent effort to reduce global warming.
TVA sets record power day for June as region swelters and common sense degrades
This story was originally published by Hard Knox Wire.
KNOXVILLE — City residents this week joined scores of others around the world — from the Southwest United States to the Indian subcontinent — sweltering through late spring with eyes toward a summer that portends to be very hot.
Whether directly attributed to climate change or not, the heat waves are causing untold misery in locations across the Northern Hemisphere, straining power grids to the brink and causing a sharp rise in heat-related illnesses.
Knoxville Utilities Board asked this week that consumers curtail their electricity use by setting their thermostats a little higher and holding off until night on energy-sucking tasks like doing laundry or running the dishwasher. That request was met in many cases with derision and unsubstantiated claims that charging electric vehicles had overburdened energy infrastructure.
So exactly how hot is it in East Tennessee and how bad is it going to get?
Editors note: SACE executive director Stephen Smith is on the board of Foundation for Global Sustainability. Hellbender Press operates under the FGS nonprofit umbrella.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) released its fourth annual “Energy Efficiency in the Southeast” report, which tracks recent policy developments and performance trends in electric utility efficiency from 2020.
It continues to highlight that despite being a proven low-cost clean energy resource with enormous potential to reduce carbon emissions and customers’ energy burden, Southeastern utilities continue to underinvest in energy efficiency.
As a result, households in many Southeastern states have some of the highest electricity usage and monthly energy bills in the nation. Some states and utilities are making progress, and it’s not too late for local policymakers to take advantage of untapped efficiency savings to help reach crucial decarbonization goals.
- Download the “Energy Efficiency in the Southeast” fourth annual report
- Read an excerpt from the accompanying report blog post below, or read the full post here.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy: TVA is not coming clean in Congressional inquiries
This is a submission from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
After public advocacy from Knoxville community members, the KUB board passed a resolution that will deliver $5 million for emergency bill assistance to benefit those most in need, and an additional $1 million for weatherization to improve the comfort of people’s homes while lowering their bills by increasing energy efficiency. These funds are part of a pandemic relief credit from TVA.
KUB staff proposed a resolution in October that would have allocated $1.3 million of the total $7.3 million TVA pandemic recovery credit toward payment of debt owed by KUB customers, and the remaining $6 million would be distributed as a monthly bill credit for all residential and small business KUB customers. This would have resulted in an average savings of $17 over 12 months, or about $1.40 per month for all KUB customers, regardless of their level of need for pandemic relief.
Knoxville Water and Energy for All (KWEA), a coalition which SACE is a part of, circulated a petition asking that KUB instead forgive all debt owed by KUB customers, and then use the remaining funds to assist households who were struggling to pay their KUB bills. KWEA delivered nearly 200 petition signatures, and the KUB board asked that the resolution be amended.
As a result of our coalition’s advocacy, the KUB board allocated not only the originally proposed $1.3 million for debt relief, but also the remaining $6 million for customers in need.
While KUB did not pledge to forgive all debt, this is certainly a major win for the community.
The KUB Board’s decision to reallocate funds demonstrates the power of our community speaking up to advocate for ourselves and our neighbors.
A former senior project manager at the Tennessee Valley Authority could spend up to five years in federal prison after he admitted to falsifying financial disclosure reports over several years.
TVA is the largest public electricity provider in the nation and is in the midst of a fraught effort to lessen its dependence on fossil fuels and reduce its carbon output.
James Christopher “Chris” Jenkins, 60, of Chattanooga, entered a guilty plea on Friday to one count of making a false official statement, according to a spokesperson from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Hard Knox Wire reported.
He was accused of failing to disclose personal financial information during a conflict of interest probe, among other charges.
He faces a maximum prison sentence of five years plus up to three years of supervised release and $250,000 in fines when he’s sentenced in March by U.S. District Court Judge Travis R. McDonough.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Joe Carrico said the case was an example of the bureau’s commitment to fighting corruption.
“There is zero tolerance for those who exploit their official position for personal gain. It erodes public confidence and undermines the Rule of Law,” Carrico said. “We want the people we serve to know the FBI along with our law enforcement partners will hold those accountable who betray the public's trust.”
TVA denies lobbying or cronyism, cites need for “expertise and analysis”
Editor's Note: This report is a collaboration between Hellbender Press and Hard Knox Wire.
A coalition of environmental groups who joined forces to stop the Tennessee Valley Authority from using ratepayer money to fund trade groups who lobby against the Clean Air Act and other environmental protections filed a federal lawsuit against the utility.
The environmentalists claim the practice potentially raises conflicts of interest and throws into doubt TVA’s willingness to comply with clean air laws even as the utility retires its coal plants in order to transition to a mix of fossil gas and nuclear power.
The 20-page lawsuit was filed Sept. 9 in federal court in Knoxville by a half-dozen groups, including the Knoxville-based Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). The groups aren’t seeking monetary damages other than court costs and legal fees.
TVA has invested millions of dollars in measurable air quality improvements as it prepares to divest from coal as a main electricity source. Nevertheless, TVA paid membership dues to interest groups such as Edison Electric Institute (which is headquartered five blocks from the U.S. Capitol) and Energy and Wildlife Action Coalition, according to the plaintiff’s suit.
“TVA has not been officially served with the lawsuit, so it would be inappropriate to comment on its specifics,” TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said early Thursday.
“As the nation’s largest public power provider and a federal agency, the Tennessee Valley Authority needs to demonstrate leadership by halting the financing of groups propping up the fossil fuel economy,” said Howard Crystal, legal director at CBD’s Energy Justice program. “Instead it funds these groups to do its dirty work while it moves forward with building new fossil gas plants. TVA can and must do better.”
TVA contends it merely wants to get input from multiple stakeholders with multiple perspectives.“As a federal agency, TVA is prohibited from participating in lobbying activities, and the TVA Board has directed that any dues, membership fees, or financial contributions paid to external organizations not be used for purposes inconsistent with TVA’s statutory mission or legal obligations.“Like other major utilities, TVA’s membership in a diverse array of external organizations allows TVA access to specialized expertise and analysis that directly benefits all of our customers at a cost significantly lower than if TVA were to undertake such work alone.”
Maggie Shober, director of utility reform at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said TVA has a special responsibility to support environmental protections.
“TVA is unique in the power industry in that environmental stewardship and economic development are codified in the agency’s founding mission,” she said. “It is imperative that the largest public power utility operate with accountability and transparency, stop funding anti-environment and anti-green jobs work, and invest in clean energy that will support the health of the Valley and the people who depend on it.”
Daniel Tait, chief operating officer of plaintiff Energy Alabama, said: “TVA has forced its customers to make political speech by taking money from their utility bills and using it for anti-clean energy advocacy. We have repeatedly called on the TVA inspector general to investigate this misuse of customer funds but after hearing and seeing nothing, we felt compelled to act.”
The path to the lawsuit began when the groups used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that TVA paid $200,000 in 2018 to the Utility Water Act Group, which lobbies against parts of the Clean Water Act. They also learned the utility was paying $500,000 a year to join the Edison Electric Institute, a group that represents all private, investor-owned utility companies in the country.
The Covid-19 pandemic currently could go down in history as Knoxville's worst hard time (to borrow a phrase from Timothy Egan), but a litany of natural disasters preceded the international outbreak of respiratory disease that killed 629 people in Knox County as of Sept. 8, according to the Knox County Health Department. Only half of the county's residents have been vaccinated, according to a New York Times database, and more than 10 percent of the population has been infected with Covid-19, which can carry life-long health implications.
Hard Knox Wire has a great rundown of the Covid crisis and other natural disasters that the city and region have faced in its ongoing Knoxville history series. They include the far-flung effects of the New Madrid earthquake; periodic flooding that devastated downtown and outlying areas before TVA dammed the Tennessee River; a Cocke County plane crash that killed all aboard, including noteworthy Knoxvillians; and, perhaps, appropo, the smallpox and cholera breakouts that struck the city in the 1800s.
History is a great teacher, and thanks to JJ Stambaugh of Hard Knox Wire and Jack Neely of the Knoxville History Project for keeping us on our toes in regard to the past.
If you never thought there’d be an Asian carp commercial fishery in Tennessee waters, you were wrong.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Asian Carp Harvest Incentive Program has yielded 10 million pounds of the exotic fish since 2018, the bulk caught downstream on the Tennessee River system at Kentucky and Barkly reservoirs. The fish has been spotted as far upstream as Knox and Anderson counties.
The Tennessee Valley Authority and TWRA are experimenting with acoustic barriers to prevent further upstream spread of the fish, which compete with native fish for food and habitat.
“There are four types of Asian carp: bighead, silver, black and grass,” WATE reported. “Experts say the species threatens to disrupt aquatic ecosystems and starve out native species due to their ability to out-compete native species for food like plankton.”
So what do fishermen do with 10 million pounds of carp?
It can be sold to wholesalers for distribution abroad and also makes for really good fertilizer.
Looking for something to do after work? Want to be part of a rising movement urging TVA to move away from fossil fuels in the face of the global climate crisis? Support transparency from the largest public utility in the country?
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Appalachian Voices, Center for Biological Diversity, the Sunrise Movement, Sierra Club, and other local organizations are hosting a clean-energy rally from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. today (Aug. 18) on Market Square near TVA’s headquarters in downtown Knoxville.
TVA hasn’t had a public listening session in over a year, according to rally organizers. Rally participants will demand that TVA:
— Restore public listening and input sessions;
— Commit to 100 percent clean energy by 2030;
— Not build new fossil gas plants;
— Protect coal ash workers, and;
— Dispose of coal ash properly with public health and safety as the utmost priority.
The rally will feature songs from local musicians, a reading of demands for TVA, speakers discussing pressing issues for TVA and our region, and a short march around Market Square.
Masks and social distancing are encouraged. For those unable to attend in person, a virtual option is available at Tennessee Valley Energy Democracy Movement Facebook page.
As Hellbender Press reported in April, the Tennessee Valley Authority plans to phase out its use of coal. And as we mentioned in an action alert, TVA is conducting a scoping process pertaining to the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for retirement and replacement of the Kingston Fossil Plant. TVA is preparing similar EIS for its other remaining coal-fired power plants as well.
Although TVA lists "construction and operation of solar and storage facilities" in these scoping documents as an alternative for replacement of coal as the power source, it has made no secret of its belief that construction of gas-powered combustion turbines (CT) and natural gas pipelines to feed them will be the best solution to replace the outdated generation capacity.
Unlike other power utilities, TVA has been making it more difficult, financially unattractive or impossible for distributed renewable energy, storage and even efficiency projects to get realized, according to proponents of renewables and some of TVA’s local power distribution partners. TVA also reneged on its agreement with other utilities to make large amounts of wind power available to the Southeastern United States through the Plains & Eastern Clean Line high-voltage direct-current power line project.
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