The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) released a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) outlining its plans to retire the Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis and to replace it with a new natural gas-fired plant. TVA plans to build the new natural gas plant directly across from the current Allen site.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy supports TVA’s decision to cease operation of Allen as a coal-fired power plant. The Allen plant is 55 years old and does not have the sufficient air pollution controls needed to comply with upcoming air regulations for sulfur dioxide and hazardous air pollutants.
“We welcome TVA’s decision to retire the old and inefficient Allen coal plant,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Moving away from coal is the right decision for both public health and the environment. TVA has options on how to replace this coal plant, and we understand that natural gas is one of those options. However, we believe that TVA should take a broader perspective on replacement and look at both renewable and energy efficiency opportunities that could further reduce the use of fossil fuels in the Greater Memphis Area.”
Memphis continuously struggles with poor air quality and was named number one on the list of “most challenging places to live with asthma” by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America in 2012. Additionally, the Allen plant emitted over 4.7 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2013, contributing to dangerous climate change pollution. The Allen facility is also home to coal ash impoundments that contain over 417 million gallons of toxic coal ash. These impoundments threaten the water quality of McKellar Lake and are contaminating surrounding groundwater with high levels of arsenic. Retiring Allen and safely closing its ash impoundments will help improve the quality of Memphis’ air, water, and public health.
A 30-day public comment period for the Draft EA is now open and will close August 5, 2014. A public open house will also be held July 8 from 3:30-7:30 p.m. CT at the Amtrak Central Station in downtown Memphis.