TVA Agrees to Air Quality Settlement

Press Release from the State of Tennesse, April 14, 2011:

State to Receive $26 Million to Fund Clean Air Projects as Result of Agreement with TVA

NASHVILLE – Tennessee is expected to receive more than $26 million to fund energy conservation, alternative energy and/or pollution reduction projects, which will also reduce air pollution as the result of an agreement approved today by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors.

The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, on behalf of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, will join Alabama, Kentucky and North Carolina in filing an agreement today in the form of a consent decree, resolving years of allegations that the utility violated the Clean Air Act. A coalition of citizen groups filed their own complaint, which will be consolidated with the states’ complaint, allowing the citizen groups to join in the agreement with the states.

Tennessee’s agreement coincides with an agreement being filed today between TVA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). TVA will pay the states and the EPA a combined total of $350 million to fund environmental projects, as well as $10 million in civil penalties. The $350 million is payable over the next five years, and the civil penalties are payable 30 days after the date the agreement is entered by the court. Tennessee will receive the largest state’s share, $26.4 million for environmental projects and $1 million in civil penalties.

“This agreement is important in not only making our air cleaner but it also helps to provide predictability for TVA and its commercial users,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said. “This certainty will assist in economic development efforts in the state and region and is a complement to our efforts in making Tennessee’s business climate as attractive for investment as possible.”

The agreement calls for TVA to make improvements throughout its system to reduce air emissions. Specifically, the utility has agreed to reduce air emissions from its 11 coal-fired power plants and retire 18 older units. Ten coal-fired units will be retired at the Johnsonville plant in New Johnsonville, two units at the John Sevier plant in Rogersville and six units at the Widows Creek Fossil plant in North Alabama.

TVA has already been working to update plants with new air pollution control measures for several years and has plans to implement new emissions controls as part of the agreement. The agreement stipulates that emissions such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides will be reduced by more than 48,000 tons per year and 208,000 tons per year, respectively.

“Today’s agreement is the largest of its kind to date,” Attorney General Bob Cooper said. “We are pleased to have helped negotiate this collaborative agreement to resolve this enforcement action that will yield cleaner air and support economic development in our state as well as that of our neighboring states. We appreciate the TVA board’s approval of this resolution.”

Tennessee will file its lawsuit and the consent decree embodying the agreement in the U.S. District Court in Knoxville now that the TVA Board of Directors has approved the agreement at its regular board meeting in Chattanooga today.

In addition to the court agreements with the EPA and other states, the case will conclude actions by the National Park Conservation Association, the Sierra Club and Our Children’s Earth Foundation. The consent decree lodged with the court by the states and the citizen groups, and EPA’s agreement with TVA will be available for public review and comment for 30 days.

  • Joey Williams

    Wow! At first reading this news I was happy the government for once was taking charge of shutting down coal plants but when I thought about it more they are doing the opposite of what they have promised for years…making jobs! By closing down 18 coal plants that provide reliable electric power sources the EPA has arguably put thousands of people out of work and while it helps reduce our carbon foot print it does little to help our struggling economy. Coal is our number 1 energy production in the US but we sell most of it to China as an electric power sources.It doesn’t make since to close plants when your opening new ones like the surry coal plant right by my house of all places. Good article with knowledge and facts but disappointing for those losing their jobs and a safe electric power sources even though it will help out the environment.