Energy

Coal Plant To Close Down, Despite Trump’s Pleas

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter

The Tennessee Valley Authority voted to close down a Kentucky coal-fired power plant, bucking pressure from President Donald Trump to keep it running.

The 7-member board of directors for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted almost unanimously on Thursday to shutter the remaining coal-fired unit at its Paradise Fossil Plant. Unit 3 of the plant, located in Muhlenberg, Kentucky, is now slated to close down by December 2020.

The vote came despite public arm twisting by Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to keep the plant open.

“Coal is an important part of our electricity generation mix and [the TVA] should give serious consideration to all factors before voting to close viable power plants, like Paradise #3 in Kentucky!” the president Tweeted Monday night.

“I agree Mr. President. [Coal] is an affordable & reliable source of energy we can find right here in [Kentucky]. It powers the lights in our homes & employs thousands of hardworking Kentuckians,” McConnell, a senior U.S. senator from the state, tweeted shortly after Trump. “Coal has helped fuel our country’s greatness & it needs to be part of our energy future. (RELATED: Ryan Zinke’s Got A Brand New Gig)

Their calls followed a lobbying effort by Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who sent a letter to TVA CEO Bill Johnson in January that claimed closing the Paradise plant would result in “devastating” consequences to the state’s economy and regional energy grid.

The Paradise closure could put 131 people at the plant out of work, along with an additional 135 people working in the nearby coal mines that currently supply it.

US President Donald Trump holds up a "Trump Digs Coal" sign as he arrives to speak during a Make America Great Again Rally at Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, West Virginia, August 3, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump holds up a “Trump Digs Coal” sign as he arrives to speak during a Make America Great Again Rally at Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, West Virginia, August 3, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

The TVA board on Thursday also voted to shutter the Bull Run Fossil Plant located near Oak Ridge Tennessee by the end of 2023.

“It is not about coal. This decision is about economics,” TVA CEO Bill Johnson stated Thursday. “It’s about keeping rates as low as feasible.”

The decision follows a trend in the U.S. power market. Despite rolling back numerous Obama-era energy regulations and ushering in unprecedented levels of U.S. oil and gas production, the Trump administration has been unable to stave off the rapid closures of coal plants in the country.

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