TVA to eliminate some jobs at 3 coal plants

By The Associated Press

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The Tennessee Valley Authority will eliminate about 200 jobs, starting next year, as it downsizes coal-fired plants in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama but affected employees will be offered work at other locations.

Jobs will be cut at the John Sevier Plant in Northeast Tennessee, the Shawnee Plant near Paducah, Ky., and the Widows Creek Plant in Northeast Alabama, TVA Chief Executive Officer Tom Kilgore said in a telephone news conference Tuesday.

Kilgore said about 30 percent of the plants’ capacity is being idled to reduce carbon emissions.

Kilgore said the first cutbacks will be at the Widows Creek Plant next year and the others will follow through 2015.

He said there are jobs for affected employees “elsewhere in the TVA system.” He said there may eventually be other reductions at coal plants.

“It all depends on the regulations,” Kilgore said.

TVA is idling 1,000 megawatts of coal-fired generation while spending $2.5 billion over five years to finish a 1,200-megawatt reactor at its Watts Bar site by October 2012.

TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martocci said there is no estimate of any reduced costs from eliminating the jobs.

The nation’s largest public utility supplies power to nearly 9 million consumers in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. It produces about 60 percent of its power from coal, about 32 percent from nuclear and about 8 percent from hydroelectric.

Kilgore said TVA has no plans to build any coal-powered plants.

He said at a board meeting last week that TVA wants to be the “nation’s leader in increased nuclear production.”

The board, meeting in Knoxville, approved a fiscal 2011 budget that includes $248 million for the initial engineering design and site preparation for a Unit 1 reactor at the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Northeast Alabama.

TVA executives have never said whether the utility is aiming for a particular percentage of nuclear power.

“We don’t have a percentage goal that I am aware of,” Martocci said after the Tuesday news conference. “We are doing cleaner energy.”

TVA’s clean energy goals will be guided by its Integrated Resource Plan, an assessment of its mission options for the next two decades. A draft of the plan is expected to be released in September.