McConnell Calls on TVA to Keep Paradise Coal-Fired Plant Open

Sen. McConnell and TVA President-CEO William Johnson discuss Paradise plant.
Sen. McConnell and TVA President-CEO William Johnson discuss Paradise plant.

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell met with Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) President and CEO William Johnson to urge TVA to maintain its current operations at the Paradise Fossil Plant, a coal-fired facility in Drakesboro, Kentucky. During the Wednesday meeting, Senator McConnell said that with the upcoming retirement of Kentucky Utilities’ Green River plant in 2016, coupled with a potential closure of Paradise, Muhlenberg County “just can’t take any more hits.” Johnson responded that many factors have contributed to the TVA’s decision to review the future of the Paradise, citing one reason as the current regulatory environment. Johnson said he would take McConnell’s concerns into account while making any decisions with regards to the Paradise plant.

Following the meeting, Senator McConnell also decided to send a letter (below) to Johnson reiterating his concerns and calling on TVA to keep the facility open. Joining Senator McConnell on the letter were Senator Rand Paul, Congressman Ed Whitfield, Congressman Hal Rogers, Congressman Brett Guthrie, Congressman Andy Barr and Congressman Thomas Massie.

In the letter they wrote, “It has been brought to our attention that the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is weighing several options that would alter future electricity generation at its Paradise Fossil Plant… As supporters of Kentucky coal and coal utilization, we urge the TVA to maintain its current operations at Paradise with the continued use of coal for electricity generation.”

“We are well aware of the pressure that public utilities face from the Obama Administration to transition from using coal to alternative sources of energy. However, we would like to remind the TVA of the importance of maintaining an all-inclusive energy portfolio. To allow a historically abundant and proven resource, such as coal, to fall by the wayside would ultimately threaten our energy independence. Accordingly, we request the TVA maintain existing coal-fired operations—that utilize Kentucky-produced coal stocks—as your agency considers alternative sources in conjunction with coal for electricity generation,” they added.

Dear Bill:

As members of the United States Congress, we write to express our views on a matter of great importance to the Kentucky coal industry and those whose livelihoods depend on it.

It has been brought to our attention that the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is weighing several options that would alter future electricity generation at its Paradise Fossil Plant (Paradise), a coal-fired public utility in Drakesboro, Kentucky. As supporters of Kentucky coal and coal utilization, we urge the TVA to maintain its current operations at Paradise with the continued use of coal for electricity generation.

The Kentucky Coal Association, whose members we represent in Congress, has informed us that since 1970, Paradise has provided the Commonwealth with tremendous direct and indirect economic benefits. Paradise directly employs roughly 400 full-time employees and provided Muhlenberg County with over $13.19 million in tax receipts in 2012. Indirectly, Kentucky’s coal industry, which supports over 13,000 jobs in the state, relies heavily on the Paradise plant. In 2012, Paradise alone burned 6.15 million tons of mostly Kentucky coal.

Moreover, the Commonwealth’s abundant supply of coal provides our state with low electric rates that allow our state to attract and maintain a strong manufacturing base. Aluminum smelting, automobile part manufacturing and agriculture are only three electricity-dependent industries that would suffer without such low-cost electricity provided by coal. Any action by the TVA to reduce or diminish a Kentucky coal-fired public utility would be a direct threat to our coal industry.

We are well aware of the pressure that public utilities face from the Obama Administration to transition from using coal to alternative sources of energy. However, we would like to remind the TVA of the importance of maintaining an all-inclusive energy portfolio. To allow a historically abundant and proven resource, such as coal, to fall by the wayside would ultimately threaten our energy independence. Accordingly, we request the TVA maintain existing coal-fired operations—that utilize Kentucky-produced coal stocks—as your agency considers alternative sources in conjunction with coal for electricity generation.

We thank you for your time and consideration of our requests.

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