Arkansas’s tendency to adopt reflexive positions on great public policy questions has never been more in evidence than the near universal adoption by politicians of a pro-coal position. It’s a rare politician who’ll oppose a new coal burning power plant. It’s a virtually non-existent politician who’ll admit the EPA has a role in clean air regulation and that stiffer rules on pollution might lead to creative and ultimately beneficial alternatives to our old ways of doing business.
But as long as the biggest utilities in Arkansas depend on coal for boiler fuel and as long as short-sighted thinking guides politicians, coal is going to rule.
But, FYI: There is another way.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors on Thursday approved replacing the Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis with a cleaner, natural gas plant that will help ensure continued low-cost and reliable electricity for the greater Memphis area and TVA’s western service territory.
Following an environmental review that received comments from more than 1,500 people, the board agreed to retire the 55-year-old coal plant and replace it with a high-efficiency, 2-on-1, combined-cycle gas plant. The board authorized up to $975 million to build a gas plant with a capacity of approximately 1,000 megawatts, enough to supply about 580,000 homes.
The Allen gas plant will be the seventh combined-cycle gas plant TVA has added to its power portfolio since 2007.
TVA is working under a deadline to either retire or install emission controls at the Allen coal plant by December 2018 under a 2011 clean-air agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, three states and four environmental groups.
They tell me there’s a lot of gas in the ground in Arkansas. They also tell me there’s a huge gas-powered combined cycle generating plant in El Dorado. Also, AECC operates a combined cycle plant in Wrightsville. So gthey know the ropes.