TVA closes two coal plants, names Lyash as new CEO

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — National eyes rested on Chattanooga this morning as the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board voted on the closure of two coal plants — one in Western Kentucky and the other near Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

TVA’s board has voted nearly unanimously to close both the Bull Run and Paradise #3 coal plants, despite hearing passionate pleas from community residents not to close the plants.

Both TVA’s CEO AND CFO recommended closure after highlighting the projected economic savings — a savings that is expected to trickle down to every customer, including Chattanoogans.

The closure of two TVA coal plants in the Tennessee Valley has caused national debate. Even President Donald Trump tweeted about the board’s weighty decision, urging TVA to consider coal’s importance for America’s energy landscape.

However, after hearing all sides of the argument, the board voted to close the plants in favor of cost savings and lower rates.

“If you’re thinking this is about TVA abandoning coal, that certainly is not true,” TVA CEO Bill Johnson said. “As you can see the contribution from coal this year and ten years from now is about the same. So this is not about coal, this is about these assets and their ability to run in the current system.”

TVA estimates a savings of 320 million dollars by closing the plants the company considers high-cost and outdated.

“It affects all the rate payers across the whole valley,” Chattanooga resident Barbara Kelly said. “Keeping our rates low is really important. There are already people out there who are in high poverty situations who can’t afford the electricity and the bills go sky high and their electricity is cut off.”

The board did not brush away the concerned cries of community members effected by the closures.

“The livelihood of many depend on this plant staying open and that’s a primary concern,” TVA Board Member Kenny Allen argued.

“We should commit ourselves to trying to minimize the impact of this on the communities and see what we can do to make them better,” TVA Board Member A.D. Frazier said.

Johnson says TVA will work to provide relocation or retirement options for all employees at Bull Run and Paradise #3.

“These communities have served TVA and the other people in the valley for more than 50 years,” TVA Board Member Jeff Smith said. “They’ve put their communities’ heart and soul into providing power. It may be the right thing to do economically but we have an obligation I think to take care of these communities in some way.”

The board also named Jeffrey Lyash as retiring CEO Johnson’s replacement. Lyash is currently the CEO of Ontario Power Generation in Canada. Lyash will take office in April of this year. You can learn more about him here.

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