Energy & Environment

Utility votes to shut coal plant Trump tried to save

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) board voted to shut down a Kentucky coal-fired power plant Thursday, days after President Trump publicly called on them to keep it open.

The board of the federally owned utility voted 6-1 to close the remaining coal-fired generating unit of the Paradise Fossil Plant by 2020, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

Trump had tweeted Monday that coal “is an important part of our electricity generation mix” and TVA “should give serious consideration to all factors before voting to close viable power plants.”

{mosads}The western Kentucky plant’s top coal supplier is a mine owned by a subsidiary Murray Energy Corp., the nation’s largest privately held coal mining company. That company’s leader is Bob Murray, an outspoken Trump donor and supporter.

The plant will close by 2020 under the board’s plan, which aligns with what TVA staff had recommended.

“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 tweeted after the vote.

A TVA staff report earlier this week found that Paradise No. 3 had in recent years experienced lower reliability than comparable plants and was more expensive to operate.

Nonetheless, Trump intervened, the latest in a series of steps the president has taken to fulfill his campaign promise to save the declining coal industry.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had also pushed TVA to keep the plant open.

The Sierra Club, which has been highly critical of Trump’s energy agenda, applauded TVA’s vote.

“TVA made the right decision to ignore the political posturing and close these dirty, expensive, and unnecessary coal units,” Mary Anne Hitt, senior director of the group’s Beyond Coal program, said in a statement.

“The board ignored the political games, followed their statutory mission, and were guided by the facts laid out by their own experts. Now they’re paving the way for cleaner, more affordable energy in Tennessee and Kentucky,” she said.

Tags Coal power plant Donald Trump Kentucky Mitch McConnell Tennessee Valley Authority

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