- The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) will continue moving away from coal by shuttering Memphis’s aging Allen Steam Plant by 2018.
- TVA directors must decide at the company's 2015 budget meeting in two weeks whether to replace it with a new natural gas facility or renewables.
- In anticipation of the decision, Sierra Club is mounting one of its biggest media campaigns in Tennessee on behalf of renewables.
Memphis’s three-unit Allen Plant, built by Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division in the 1950s, is at the western edge of TVA's seven-state region.
TVA’s President said a combined-cycle natural gas facility, estimated to cost between $500 million and $1.3 billion, meets its obligation as a federal utility to pick the lowest-cost replacement that complies with environmental and other regulations because of extra costs introduced by renewables’ variability.
The Sierra Club Tennessee chapter head argued renewables would be less costly long term because natural gas prices will rise while renewables’ prices are fixed for 20 years. Sierra Club wants TVA to invest in a $2 billion, 700 mile, 3,500-megawatt, high voltage transmission line to be built by Clean Line Energy Partners that would deliver electricity generated by Texas and Oklahoma wind energy to Memphis.
The TVA directors have decided to replace both the John Sevier Fossil Plant and the Paradise coal plant with natural gas in decisions made over the last five years.