Cumberland Fossil Plant Retirement
Stewart County, Tennessee
On January 10, 2023, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) issued a Record of Decision (ROD) to adopt TVA’s preferred alternative, Alternative A of the Cumberland Retirement Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which involves the retirement and demolition of TVA’s two-unit, coal-fired Cumberland Fossil Plant (CUF) and the construction and operation of a natural gas-fueled combined cycle (CC) plant on the CUF Reservation to replace the generation capacity of one of the two retired units. This least-cost alternative would achieve the purpose and need of the project to retire and decommission the two CUF units, one unit by the end of 2026 and the other unit by the end of 2028, and to provide replacement generation that can supply 1,450 megawatts (MW) of firm, dispatchable power by the time the first unit is retired by the end of 2026 to ensure that TVA is able to meet required year-round generation, maximum capacity system demands, and planning reserve margin targets, particularly during peak load events.
In June 2019, TVA published the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), a comprehensive study of how TVA can best meet the future energy demand in its power service area, which encompasses approximately 80,000 square miles covering most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Virginia. Following the publication and recommendation of the 2019 IRP, TVA began conducting end-of-life evaluations of our coal fleet to inform long-term planning. The results of the Aging Coal Fleet Evaluation confirmed that TVA’s coal fleet is among the oldest in the nation and is experiencing material condition and performance challenges typical for plants approaching the end of their useful lives, and concluded that a phased plan to retire TVA’s coal fleet by approximately 2035 is aligned with least-cost planning and reduces economic, reliability and environmental risks. The evaluation also recommended specific planning assumption retirement dates for each of the coal plants to facilitate the 2035 end-of-life timeline.
Consistent with the 2019 IRP and the Aging Coal Fleet Evaluation, TVA prepared an EIS to assess the Proposed Action of retiring and decommissioning the two coal-fired units at Cumberland Fossil Plant (one unit by the end of 2026 and the second unit by the end of 2028) and implement replacement generation that can supply 1,450 MW of firm, dispatchable power by the time the first unit is retired in 2026.
TVA considered three action alternatives in the EIS: (A) Retirement of CUF and construction and operation of a Combined Cycle Combustion Turbine Gas Plant at the same site; (B) Retirement of CUF and construction and operation of Simple Cycle Combustion Turbine Gas Plants at alternate locations; (C) Retirement of CUF and construction and operation of Solar and Storage Facilities, primarily at alternate locations.
TVA conducted scoping on this project and requested public comments on the scope of the EIS, alternatives being considered, and environmental issues that should be addressed as a part of this EIS. The public scoping period ran from May 11, 2021, to June 10, 2021. Comments were received by mail, email, and electronic comment forms. A copy of the comments received can be found in the scoping report linked in the “Related Documents” section below.
The Draft EIS was made available for public review on April 29, 2022, and the public comment period ran through June 13, 2022. TVA received 770 comments and 930 signatures (form letters) on the Draft EIS. TVA carefully reviewed all of the substantive comments that it received. To avoid repetition, TVA grouped similar comments and produced one synthesized response for each comment grouping that resulted in responses to approximately 116 comment groupings. TVA’s responses to the comments can be found in Appendix O of the Final EIS.
TVA released the Final EIS to the public on December 2, 2022. A notice of Availability for the Final EIS was published in the Federal Register on December 9, 2022.
In July 2023, TVA released an Errata for the Cumberland Retirement Final Environmental Impact Statement, which corrects an error in the air emissions analysis. The Errata provides updates to the CUF FEIS and the entire revised Appendix I (Greenhouse Gas Emissions Life Cycle Analyses) of the CUF FEIS.
More information on this environmental review can be obtained from: