Air pollution controls approved for Shawnee Fossil Plant

The Shawnee steam plant will be able to keep two of its units.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors voted to add additional air pollution controls to two units at the Shawnee Fossil Plant near Paducah.

TVA was given until the end of the year by the Environmental Protection Agency to decide whether to install the pollution controls or retire the units.

Another option was to convert the units to biomass instead of coal, but it was rejected due to the expense.

The approval was given after the board looked at the financial, operational, and environmental impacts of running the two units.

Paducah Chamber of Commerce President Sandra Wilson said she’s excited TVA decided to add-on to its two units instead of retiring them.

“We believe it sets the future for the Shawnee Fossil Plant on a positive note.  I really feel like this was a belated Christmas present for our community, for them to make this decision to spend that money here,” Wilson said.

TVA Spokesman Scott Brooks said these improvements will fulfill air quality goals while minimizing costs to TVA customers.

“We think this is a good investment, because it will also add about 200 temporary construction jobs during the next three years,” Brooks said,

Brooks said retiring the units would have cost about a dozen jobs. He said adding these emission controls will reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide out of the air by 90 percent.

The Shawnee plant’s smaller units are also ideal for additions, because the bigger the units are, the longer it takes to bring them to full power.

“They can be available when we need them, at times when the power demand is highest like cold winter days or hot summer days,”Brooks said.

They will need to be installed by the end of December 2017. The total cost is estimated to be $185 million.

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