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Tennessee Ponders Future Energy Mix

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Memphis residents can have their say about the replacement of a coal-fired power plant with a natural gas plant in their area.  The Tennessee Valley Authority has opened a public comment period until August 4th.  Under corrective measures agreed to with the Environmental Protection Agency, TVA must either install emission controls or retire the Allen Fossil Plant within a few years.

Memphis is considered one of the nation’s worst cities for allergy and asthma problems, and air pollution is suspected as a contributing factor.  Retiring several older power plants is part of the TVA plan to reduce carbon pollution, which could potentially mean cleaner air and less impact on climate change.

“We welcome TVA’s decision to retire the old and inefficient Allen coal plant,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “Moving away from coal is the right decision for both public health and the environment. TVA has options on how to replace this coal plant, and we understand that natural gas is one of those options. However, we believe that TVA should take a broader perspective on replacement and look at both renewable and energy efficiency opportunities that could further reduce the use of fossil fuels in the Greater Memphis Area.”

While natural gas is touted as clean while producing energy, many questions remain about risks to air and water during hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to extract the gas from deep shale formations.

TVA’s long-term goal of a diversified portfolio already includes two solar farms that spokesman Scott Brooks says are in the works for 2015.

Many East Tennessee residents are asking their US Senators to be champions for clean air and help protect Tennessee children from climate change.  They and their families joined in sending banners to Washington this week for the Play-In for Climate by Moms Clean Air Force.

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