Jackson County leaders look to discuss funding options with TVA

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STEVENSON, Ala. (WHNT) -- With only one unit fully active at the TVA Widows Creek Fossil Plant, Jackson County leaders are looking to discuss potential options with TVA to keep funding in the county.

There is a lot of activity at the Widows Creek plant near Stevenson, although not as much as perhaps a decade ago.

"Widows Creek has eight total units. Units one through six are retired," plant manager Scott Fallecker says."They have not been in operation for the past few years." Fallecker says in September another unit was taken out of operation, leaving only one unit fully in use.

TVA is taking this action because of requirements set forth by the EPA.

"Unit eight will not meet the future regulations that we have with the EPA on emissions," Fallecker says, "Units one through six will not operate due to an agreement we have with the EPA to no longer operate those units."

But, there is some question as to why TVA won't modify the units to meet those requirements, so at least some can stay in operation. Fallecker says ultimately, the burden to fund those improvements could fall on the ratepayers, and that's not a route TVA wants to take.

"That's the main goal, to ensure that we minimize any impact to the ratepayer so that we are keeping our rates as low as possible," Fallecker says.

County leaders say they're concerned the plant might close altogether, leaving residents without jobs and the county without the funding it gets from the plant.

Commission Chair Matthew Hodges says those 'in lieu of taxes' make up a part of the general fund budget, which includes entities like schools and the Sheriff's Office.

Hodges says they would like to discuss potential options with TVA. "We want to work with TVA in any way possible to try to keep those taxes available or come up with other opportunities for us to earn revenue," Hodges says.

TVA officials say their ultimate goal is to do what's best for the community."A lot of what we do is to unsure the employees that we have that are affected have a place to go, have a place to work, and any way that we can keep a job for those employees," Fallecker says.

As of right now, TVA leaders say the remaining running unit at Widows Creek will stay as it is for at least the next several years.