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Let Your Voice be Heard

TVA plans to install 100% Natural Gas plant

While the Sierra Club applauds TVA's decision to retire the coal burning Allen Steam Plant in Memphis, the Chickasaw Group of the Sierra Club asks you to consider the following and to respond to TVA in a way that is consistent with your beliefs.

Retiring of the current coal burning plant and replacing it solely with a natural gas plant has some positive outcomes including:

   *  A reduction in particulate emissions that cause respiratory illness that have contributed to Memphis' ranking as an Asthma Capital

   *  Reductions in sulfur dioxide emissions that cause acid rain and exacerbate asthma, bronchitis and emphysema locally

   *  Reduction in the emission of nitrogen oxides that contribute to our local ground level ozone problems

   *  Reduction in carbon dioxide greenhouse gas emissions (this is offset by the fact that TVA plans to build a natural gas plant with twice the output)

 However relying solely on natural gas means:

   *  TVA is still relying 100% on a fossil fuel

   *  TVA is not utilizing clean and renewable energy, such as solar and wind

   *  TVA is not including an energy efficiency program

   *  TVA is not upgrading their Transmission System and Renewable Power Purchase Agreements

   *  Since all of our electrical power will be generated by natural gas, Memphians will be left in a dangerous and precarious position when there is a disruption in the gas supply as in the case of an earthquake.

   *  MLGW customers will be susceptible to dramatic and/or unexpected rate increases when the price of natural gas rises as predicted with globally traded nonrenewable resources.

 *  TVA continues to ignore the will of the American people: A recent Gallup Poll indicates 75% of Americans want wind and solar power.

 *  For the Allen Plant, TVA will rely on natural gas extracted using a highly controversial and dangerous fracking process.  Fracking causes ground water pollution and contributes to climate change due to methane gas that is released into the atmosphere during the fracking process.

We believe:

   *  TVA should adopt a plan that incorporates wind and solar power.

   *  TVA should commit to facilitating business and homeowner initiatives in retrofitting energy efficiency.

   *  Rather than relying completely on fracking produced natural gas, support the Mayors, City Council and County Commission in meeting their Green Growth Goal of 800 megawatts of renewable energy and 200 megawatts of energy efficiency by 2020.This Goal can be reached with little or no borrowed capital by TVA.

  *  TVA should invest in wind and solar power which compares favorably to that of natural gas. Wind power can be purchased from Clean Line without any installations in Memphis.

   *  Many jobs can be created in Memphis by MLGW encouraging and facilitating local installation of solar arrays on commercial and residential roof tops and brown fields.

 TVA is accepting comments now and until August 8th:

Act now! Voice your concerns and suggestions at the TVA website and to the TVA Board of Directors!  

 Email your concerns and suggestions to us and to the TVA Board of Directors.

Please consider using content from the following comments:

Comment 1:
As a concerned citizen of Shelby County, I am disappointed and dismayed that the plan for the Allen plant replacement does not include any renewable energy production; rather TVA is looking to the single energy source of natural gas. It is extremely unwise to put all our eggs in one basket. It is highly probable that natural gas prices will rise at least by 150% by 2040, due to EPA regulations alone. Because our natural gas is sold on the international market, it will not necessarily be available for domestic use and the gas exports may lead to a tripling of natural gas prices. The supply of natural gas will be disrupted in the case of natural disasters such as earthquakes. Additionally the prices for natural gas will go up.

There is no reason to be solely dependent on natural gas when other alternatives exist. Energy can be purchased from Clean Line. TVA could and should support installation of solar arrays wherever possible. When the coal fired plant was installed in the fifties, we did not have the renewable energy resources that are so readily available today.  In the face of Climate Change and the issues surrounding natural gas, TVA would be unwise and irresponsible to not make renewable energy resources a major part of the sources for electrical energy for Memphis and the surrounding area. The costs of failure to act responsibly are grave.

Comment 2:
I am disappointed and concerned that the plan for the Allen plant replacement does not include any renewable energy production.  It seems apparent that TVA's business case must rely heavily upon estimates of Natural gas supply and pricing over a long time horizon; presumably such estimates demonstrated a lower-risk or lower-cost advantage for Natural gas over renewable alternatives.  My fear and suspicion is that TVA's business case favoring Natural gas is completely dependent on a favorable status quo in U.S. fracking (Natural gas) production and pricing.  Yet a status quo in fracking would seem anything but assured.  While Federal policy and investor sentiment for fracking has been significantly supportive, resulting in fast industry ramp-up and significant Natural gas production, this recent trend could prove to be transitory.  Numerous environmental impacts (earth quakes; water usage; ground water pollution) will become better understood and may prohibit or curtail fracking production.  The three-year moratorium in New York state and recent emergency shutdown in California  may portend further restraints on the industry.  An entirely different risk is leverage within the fracking industry.  A recent investigation by Bloomberg into financial/investment risk was grim, showing exploding industry debt and nearly flat revenues .  Finally, and perhaps ironically, even if the fracking industry matures safely and profitably, it is likely that a sustained increase in Nat gas production would give rise to a U.S. LNG export market.  Any such development could profoundly impact the U.S. Natural gas market, curtailing supply while "internationalizing" (substantially increasing) price.  I would advocate a careful consideration of these threats to a sustainable status quo in fracking production/pricing along with a thoughtful reconsideration of renewable energy production. 

We welcome your comments, questions and environmental concerns.

The Sierra Club TV Show "Nature of Conservation" may be seen on WYPL-TV 18 on (Comcast/Xfinity) and online at Vimeo, where previously aired shows can be seen indefinitely. Check the WYPL schedule for viewing times of current month's show.

 For more information, contact Judith Rutschman.  

The Sierra Club's members and supporters are more than 1.3 million of your friends and neighbors. Inspired by nature, we work together to protect our communities and the planet. The Club is America's oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization.

The Chickasaw Group of the Sierra Club represents over 1000 members in Memphis and West Tennessee. We advocate for policies that protect our natural environment, offer hikes and outdoor recreation for people of all ages, support environmental candidates for public office, and provide opportunities for people who want to develop leadership skills to help their community while enhancing the environment.


Maintained by Bill Runyan, last updated August 7, 2014.