Feb. 14 (UPI) — The Tennessee Valley Authority voted Thursday to retire two of its coal power plants by 2023 despite pleas from President Donald Trump to keep them open.
The TVA board voted 5-2 to close Paradise Fossil Plant in western Kentucky and the Bull Run Steam Plant near Oak Ridge, Tenn. The Kentucky facility is expected to shutter by 2020, while the Tennessee plan will close by 2023.
“Their decision was made after extensive reviews and public comments and will ensure continued reliable power at the lowest cost feasible. We will work with impacted employees and communities,” TVA said in a tweet.
Trump and other Republican lawmakers called on TVA, which is a federally owned corporation established in 1933 to provide electricity, flood control and other economic development to the region, to keep the plants open. The board of directors are appointed by the president, but they act independently.
“Coal is an important part of our electricity generation mix and @TVAnews should give serious consideration to all factors before voting to close viable power plants, like Paradise #3 in Kentucky!” Trump said in a tweet posted Monday.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who represents Kentucky, said he agreed with Trump.
“Coal is an affordable & reliable source of energy we can find right here in #Kentucky. It powers the lights in our homes & employs thousands of hardworking Kentuckians. Coal has helped fuel our country’s greatness & it needs to be part of our energy future,” he tweeted.
The Washington Post reported the 49-year-old Paradise Fossil Plant operated intermittently in 2018 because the region no longer needed it as a source for uninterrupted power. The board determined it was too costly to keep open.
TVA Chief Financial Officer John Thomas III said closing the facilities would save ratepayers $320 million without power being affected. He said both plants also require about $1.3 billion in capital investments.
Not all TVA directors were sure Thursday’s decision was the right move.