The Tennessee Valley Authority has voted to shut down two aging coal plants — the Bull Run Fossil Plant in East Tennessee and Paradise Unit No. 3 in western Kentucky — after determining they are outdated and unable to operate as efficiently as other plants.
The TVA board of directors rebuffed pressure from President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to keep the plants open, saying that shutting them down is in the best economic interests of the entire service area. Both plants were designed and built nearly half a century ago.
"They have both outlived their design life by at least a decade," outgoing CEO Bill Johnson said during a TVA board meeting Thursday in Chattanooga. "They lasted much longer than they were originally intended, and they will never be able to fulfill their original design mission on the TVA system."
Members of the respective local communities don't agree with shutting down of the plants and urged the TVA to reconsider. Kenny Allen, a board member from Kentucky, asked for the shutdowns to be postponed until May.
But the majority voted against delay. Nashville Board Member Virginia Lodge said TVA will work with plant employees during the transition.
"I don't want anyone to think that we have not heard and understood the heartfelt pleas from these communities," she said. "If we could make our decision based on our sympathetic feelings, it would be easy."
TVA plans to retire Paradise by December 2020 and Bull Run by December 2023.