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TVA CEO: New Obama Rules on Coal Could Speed Up Decision On Closing Widows Creek

Widows Creek

STEVENSON, Ala. (WHNT) – Tennessee Valley Authority President and CEO Bill Johnson says new rules announced by President Obama on Monday could speed up a decision on the future of its Widows Creek power plant.

In a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon, Johnson said TVA officials are still looking over the rules which seek to reduce carbon emissions across the United States. Many believe carbon is contributing to man-made global warming or climate change.  Widows Creek is a coal-fired plant that produces electricity and delivers it to the TVA grid.

Most of the units at Widows Creek are already idle.   Two are still in operation and TVA had already announced one of those could be shut down in the near future.   The future of Widows Creek is something that concerns Jackson County leaders.

“The main concern obviously is the jobs we will lose once that has closed down completely,” said Matthew Hodges, County Commission Chairman.  “Another concern is that is an asset for TVA currently and what will happen with that asset once it does close?”

Johnson says TVA hit its peak carbon output back in 1995.  He says they hope to cut their emissions by 40 percent by 2020.  He says the new rules will put an increased focus on hydroelectric dams and nuclear plants.

A new unit is scheduled to go online at the Watts Bar nuclear plant in Tennessee sometime in 2015.   He said it will likely lead to a reevaluation of the proposed nuclear plant at Bellefonte, also in Jackson County.   It was originally built in the 1980s, but was mothballed before ever producing any electricity.  Then in the mid-2000s, it was announced that construction would begin to complete the facility only to be later put on hold again by the economic downturn.

Bellefonte is located near the town of Hollywood in Jackson County.   Widows Creek is near the town of Stevenson.  It was originally constructed in the late 1950s.

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