Despite Donald Trump’s plea to keep one of two coal-fired power plants open, the Tennessee Valley Authority voted in favor of retiring two coal plants in the next few years.
The government-owned utility board of directors, four of which are Trump appointees, voted 5-2 to shut down Paradise 3 plant located in Kentucky and Bull Run plant in Tennessee even after Trump tweeted at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) urging the board not to close the “viable power plants.”
Coal is an important part of our electricity generation mix and @TVAnews should give serious consideration to all factors before voting to close viable power plants, like Paradise #3 in Kentucky!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 11, 2019
TVA CEO said the decision came about because of economics – it’s becoming “too expensive to maintain and operate the aging plants,” EcoWatch reported.
“It is not about coal,” William Johnson, TVA CEO, said. “This decision is about economics.”
The TVA Board votes to retire Paradise Unit 3 and Bull Run within the next few years. Their decision was made after extensive reviews and public comments and will ensure continued reliable power at the lowest cost feasible. We will work with impacted employees and communities. pic.twitter.com/D9GuQUw9Mp
— Tennessee Valley Authority (@TVAnews) February 14, 2019
With high maintenance costs, major repairs needed and unreliability from the aging plants, it would cost around $1.3 billion in investments to keep the plants running, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.
But with the recent rise of natural gas and renewable energy sources, coal has steadily declined. According to a Bloomberg report, “What was true under President Barack Obama is still true today: Coal’s share of the power mix is declining, and wind and solar remain the fastest-growing U.S. sources of electricity.”
Customers will save an overall $320 million if the two plants close, John Thomas, TVA CFO said.
While 167 jobs will be lost at the Paradise 3 plant and 100 jobs at the Bull Run plant, Johnson said that about 40 percent of those employees are eligible for retirement and the remaining will have an opportunity to continue working for the utility in a different capacity.
“I don’t want anybody to think we have not heard and understood the heartfelt pleas from these communities,” Virginia Lodge, TVA board member said. “If we could make our decisions based on our sympathetic feeling it would be easy. Unfortunately we’ve all taken an oath to do what we think is best for the entire Valley.”