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TVA endorses demolition of retired units at Ala. plant

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Essential Energy Insights - January 2021


TVA endorses demolition of retired units at Ala. plant

The TennesseeValley Authority is recommending the demolition of units 1-5 at itsretired Colbert Fossil Plant in Colbert County, Ala., as part of a new draftenvironmental assessment.The federal utility said July 19 that under its preferred alternative, thoseunits as well as other structures, including the six stacks, would bedemolished to a brownfield state three feet below ground level, which wouldprepare the site for potential commercial or industrial use.

The TVA is seeking comments from the public on itsrecommendation as well as the other options presented in the draft assessment, soit can make a decision on the future of the plant's buildings and physicalstructures no longer used for power generation.

Three other alternatives are named in the environmentalassessment. Under alternative A, the TVA would "assess, close and secure Units1-­5 and implement an operations and maintenance program to maintain structuresand equipment." Alternative C calls for assessing, closing and securingthe units and demolishing outlying buildings and structures, but retaining thepowerhouse. The other option, alternative D, calls for the utility to take noaction. Alternative B, the utility's preferred option, has the lowestcumulative cost of all action alternatives, the TVA said.

"Alternatives A and D have a higher potential forenvironmental impacts than the other action alternatives since existingstructures would be left in place at the facility," the environmentalassessment said. "Alternatives B and C would have similar impacts, whichare minor and insignificant."

Under Alternative B, the area would initially be labeled asa brownfield site and reseeded when the project is finished, positioning it forpotential future redevelopment. No adverse impacts to land use would beexpected, the TVA said in the environmental assessment.Explosives, manual deconstruction, or a combination of both, could be used inthe demolition process, according to the TVA.

Comments are being accepted through Aug. 22.

Unit one at Colbert, the last operating unit at the plant,was taken offline inMarch, marking the end of a 61-year run for the 1,209-MW coal-fired powerplant. Colbert was the last of the utility's operating coal-fired plants inAlabama. The Widow's Creek coal-fired power plant in Jackson County was takenoffline in September 2015.

The TVA board of directors approved the plant's in November 2013 aspart of efforts to diversify its portfolio in the face of lower power sales andstringent environmental regulations, such as the U.S. EPA's Mercury and AirToxics Standards. The TVA said retiring the plant would avoid capital costs of$1.01 billion.

The utility agreed to retire 18 aging coal-fired electric generation unitsafter reaching a settlement with the EPA, environmental groups and four statesin 2011.