Paradise Fossil Plant

From Global Energy Monitor

Paradise Fossil Plant is a retired 2,558.2-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station in Paradise, Kentucky. It was owned and operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).


The Paradise Fossil Plant is located in western Kentucky on the Green River near the village of Paradise.

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Plant Data

  • Owner: Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Parent Company: Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 2,558.2 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 704.0 MW (1963), Unit 2: 704.0 MW (1963), Unit 3: 1,150.2 MW (1970)
  • Location: 13246 Hwy. 176, Drakesboro, KY 42337
  • GPS Coordinates: 37.259722, -86.978056
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Paradise Mine[1]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements: Unit 1 and 2 retired in 2017 and unit 3 in 2020.[2]

Unit Retirement

On November 14, 2013, TVA announced that it would retire units 1 and 2. The board also approved construction of a new gas-fired plant at a cost not to exceed $1.12 billion. The time frame for the retirements was left to the discretion of the CEO.[3][4]

According to the US EIA, units 1-2 are planned for retirement in 2017.[5]

Paradise units 1 and 2 (704 MW each) were retired in 2017. Unit 3 (1,150 MW) will continue operation. TVA is invested approximately US$1 billion to build a gas-fired plant to replace Paradise units 1 and 2, which opened in April of 2017.[6]

In February 2019, TVA's final environmental assessment concluded the company should shut down the final coal unit, unit 3, by 2023.[7]

On February 10, 2020, TVA released an updated assessment of the Paradise plant that concluded the plant is unreliable, no longer needed, and too expensive to repair and operate. According to the assessment, shutting the Paradise Plant down would avoid customers having to pay for the aging plant’s frequent repairs, and would reduce smog emissions up to 11.5 percent across TVA’s seven-state system, as well as cut TVA's greenhouse gas emissions by more than 4 percent.[8]

Shortly after the assessment was released, President Trump called on the TVA to keep the coal plant operating, tweeting, "Coal is an important part of our electricity generation mix and @TVAnews should give serious consideration to all factors before voting to close viable power plants, like Paradise #3 in Kentucky!" Trump's move drew scrutiny because the Paradise plant buys coal from Murray Energy Corporation's Paradise Mine, owned by Trump campaign donor Robert Murray.[9] Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, in a video, urged TVA to wait until the TVA board gets two new Trump appointees, saying, “Kentuckians strongly oppose moving away from coal, and I would hope that the TVA listens to our voices."[8]

Despite the pressure from Trump and McConnell, on February 14, 2019 the TVA board voted 5-2 to shut down unit 3 by 2020.[10]

In February 2020, unit 3 was retired.[11]


The power station has three coal-fired generating units and "net dependable generating capacity" of approximately 2,273 megawatts (MW) and a nameplate capacity of 2,558 MW.[12] TVA states that "the plant consumes some 12,350 tons of coal a day." Construction of the power station commenced in 1959 and was commissioned in 1970. According to the TVA the "plant consumes about 20,000 tons of coal a day."[13]

TVA at the Crossroads, produced by Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 15,497,610 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 83,926 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 43,022 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 490 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the Paradise Fossil Plant

In 2010, Abt Associates issued a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, quantifying the deaths and other health effects attributable to fine particle pollution from coal-fired power plants.[14] The study found that over 13,000 deaths and tens of thousands of cases of chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis, asthma-related episodes and asthma-related emergency room visits, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, dysrhythmia, ischemic heart disease, chronic lung disease, peneumonia each year are attributable to fine particle pollution from U.S. coal-fired power plants. Fine particle pollution is formed from a combination of soot, acid droplets, and heavy metals formed from sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and soot. Among those particles, the most dangerous are the smallest (smaller than 2.5 microns), which are so tiny that they can evade the lung's natural defenses, enter the bloodstream, and be transported to vital organs. Impacts are especially severe among the elderly, children, and those with respiratory disease. Low-income and minority populations are disproportionately impacted as well, due to the tendency of companies to avoid locating power plants upwind of affluent communities.

The table below estimates the death and illness attributable to the Paradise Fossil Plant. Abt assigned a value of $7,300,000 to each 2010 mortality, based on a range of government and private studies. Valuations of illnesses ranged from $52 for an asthma episode to $440,000 for a case of chronic bronchitis.[15]

Table 1: Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the Paradise Fossil Plant

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 93 $680,000,000
Heart attacks 140 $15,000,000
Asthma attacks 1,500 $79,000
Hospital admissions 66 $1,600,000
Chronic bronchitis 56 $25,000,000
Asthma ER visits 91 $34,000

Source: "Find Your Risk from Power Plant Pollution," Clean Air Task Force interactive table, accessed February 2011


2011: Paradise second highest in U.S. toxic power plant emissions

A 2011 joint report by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), EarthJustice, and the Sierra Club rated the top power plants for toxic power plant emissions. Some of the chemicals used to rank the states’ emission status included chromium, arsenic, lead, and mercury. In terms of sheer pounds of emissions of the four highly toxic heavy metals, Paradise ranked second highest in the nation.[16]

2009: Paradise ranked 21st on list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal waste

In January 2009, Sue Sturgis of the Institute of Southern Studies compiled a list of the 100 most polluting coal plants in the United States in terms of coal combustion waste (CCW) stored in surface impoundments like the one involved in the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant coal ash spill.[17] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[18]

Paradise Fossil Plant ranked number 21 on the list, with 1,765,148 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[17]

Citizen groups

Articles and Resources


  1. Coal Data Browser: Shipments to Paradise 2019, US EIA, accessed 2021-02-18
  2. "Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory", 860m March 2020
  3. TVA Board Meeting Presentation, November 14, 2013, page 54.
  4. Steven Mufson, "Tennessee Valley Authority to close 8 coal-fired power plants," Washington Post, November 14, 2013
  5. Form EIA-860 Data - Schedule 3, Generator Data, US EIA, 2014
  6. "Paradise Fossil Plant," TVA website, accessed Nov 2017
  7. "TVA proposes to shut down Bull Run, Paradise coal plants despite opposition from Trump, Senate majority leader," Times Free Press, February 11, 2019
  8. 8.0 8.1 Bruggers, James (2019-02-13). "Trump's Fighting to Keep a Costly, Unreliable Coal Plant Running. TVA Wants to Shut It Down". Inside Climate News. Retrieved 2021-02-18.
  9. Brady, Jeff (2019-02-12). "President Trump And Allies Push To Save A Very Specific Coal Plant". Retrieved 2021-02-18.
  10. "Divided TVA board votes to shut down Paradise, Bull Run fossil plants despite appeals by Trump, Senate Majority leader for delay," Times Free Press, February 14, 2019
  11. "Paradise lost: TVA shuts down another coal plant unit (and could do a lot more)," Electrek, Feb 5, 2020
  12. Form EIA-860 Data - Schedule 3, Generator Data, US EIA, 2014
  13. Tennessee Valley Authority, "Paradise Fossil Plant", Tennessee Valley Authority website, accessed June 2008.
  14. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  15. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  16. "Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Texas are Top States in Terms of Toxic Power Plant Air Pollution" EIP, December 7, 2011.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  18. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.

External Sources

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