Shawnee Fossil Plant

From Global Energy Monitor

Shawnee Fossil Plant is a 1,575.0-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station owned and operated by Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and is located about 10 miles northwest of Paducah, Kentucky, on the Ohio River.


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Plant Data

  • Owner: Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Parent Company: Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Plant Nameplate Capacity: 1,750.0 MW (Megawatts)
  • Units and In-Service Dates: Unit 1: 175.0 MW (1953), Unit 2: 175.0 MW (1953), Unit 3: 175.0 MW (1953), Unit 4: 175.0 MW (1954), Unit 5: 175.0 MW (1954), Unit 6: 175.0 MW (1954), Unit 7: 175.0 MW (1954), Unit 8: 175.0 MW (1955), Unit 9: 175.0 MW (1955), Unit 10: 175.0 MW (1956)
  • Location: 7900 Metropolis Lake Rd., West Paducah, KY 42086
  • GPS Coordinates: 37.151667, -88.777222
  • Technology: Subcritical (Units 1-9), Subcritical Fluidized Bed Technology (Unit 10)
  • Coal type: Sub Bituminous
  • Coal Consumption:
  • Coal Source: Antelope Coal Mine (Navajo Nation), North Antelope Rochelle Mine (Peabody Energy), Black Thunder Mine (Arch Coal)[1]
  • Number of Employees:
  • Unit Retirements: Unit 10 retired in 2014.[2]


In 2008 TVA stated that "the plant consumes some 12,350 tons of coal a day." Construction of the power station commenced in 1951 and was commissioned in 1957. According to the TVA the "plant consumes about 9,600 tons of coal a day."[3]

Coal Unit Retirements

On August 24, 2010 TVA announced that it will retire 9 coal-fired generating units totaling about 1,000 megawatts of capacity at three locations beginning in fiscal year 2011, including Shawnee Fossil Plant Unit 10 in Kentucky.[4] Shawnee Unit 10 was the nation's first commercial-scale atmospheric fluidized-bed combustion boiler.[5]

In May 2013, TVA said two units--Units 1 and 4--were being looked at for possible closure.[6]

In June 2013 the USEC enriched uranium plant in Paducah, KY, said it was shutting its doors and ending its longstanding power purchase contract with the TVA, due to declining demand for nuclear power and enriched uranium. TVA’s Shawnee coal plant has provided power to the USEC plant for 60 years, accounting for about 5% of TVA power sales. TVA will need to decide whether to retrofit the remaining eight units with new air pollution controls to comply with EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards regulations, or retire them.[6]

Unit 10 retired in 2014.[7]

In December 2014 TVA said it had decided to install scrubbers on units 1 and 4, rather than retire them.[8]

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

End of Coal Generation

In April 2021, TVA President Jeff Lyash said that he expect TVA to shut down Cumberland Steam Plant, Gallatin Fossil Plant, Kingston Fossil Plant and Shawnee Fossil Plant by 2035 without a detailed schedule.[9]

Emissions Data

  • 2006 CO2 Emissions: 10,527,302 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions: 35,815 tons
  • 2006 SO2 Emissions per MWh:
  • 2006 NOx Emissions: 18,216 tons
  • 2005 Mercury Emissions: 180 lb.

Death and disease attributable to fine particle pollution from the Shawnee 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.[10] 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 Shawnee 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.[11]

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

Type of Impact Annual Incidence Valuation
Deaths 71 $520,000
Heart attacks 110 $12,000,000
Asthma attacks 1,200 $61,000
Hospital admissions 50 $1,200,000
Chronic bronchitis 43 $19,000,000
Asthma ER visits 73 $27,000

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

Shawnee ranked 60th 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.[12] The data came from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) for 2006, the most recent year available.[13]

Shawnee Fossil Plant ranked number 60 on the list, with 467,616 pounds of coal combustion waste released to surface impoundments in 2006.[12]

Coal Ash Waste and Water Contamination

In August 2010 a study released by the Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice reported that Kentucky, along with 34 states, had significant groundwater contamination from coal ash that is not currently regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report, in an attempt to pressure the EPA to regulate coal ash, noted that most states do not monitor drinking water contamination levels near waste disposal sites.[14] The report mentioned Kentucky based Mill Creek Station, Shawnee Fossil Plant and the Spurlock Power Station were three sites that have groundwater contamination due to coal ash waste.[15]

Citizen groups

Articles and Resources


  1. "EIA 923 July 2020" EIA 923 July 2020.
  2. Tennessee Valley Authority, "Shawnee Fossil Plant", Tennessee Valley Authority website, accessed Jan 2017
  3. Tennessee Valley Authority, "Shawnee Fossil Plant", Tennessee Valley Authority website, accessed June 2008.
  4. "TVA to idle 9 coal-fired units," Tennessee Valley Authority press release, August 24, 2010.
  5. "Shawnee Fossil Plant," Tennessee Valley Authority website, accessed August 31, 2010
  6. 6.0 6.1 Angela Garrone "TVA Loses Largest Customer Leaving Future of Coal Plant Uncertain,", June 6, 2013.
  7. Tennessee Valley Authority, "Shawnee Fossil Plant", Tennessee Valley Authority website, accessed Jan 2017
  8. "Powerful choice: TVA expected to keep Kentucky coal plant after shutting down 32 other coal units," Times Free Press, December 30, 2014
  9. "TVA announces plans to end coal-fired generation by 2035", April 29, 2021
  10. "The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source," Clean Air Task Force, September 2010.
  11. "Technical Support Document for the Powerplant Impact Estimator Software Tool," Prepared for the Clean Air Task Force by Abt Associates, July 2010
  12. 12.0 12.1 Sue Sturgis, "Coal's ticking timebomb: Could disaster strike a coal ash dump near you?," Institute for Southern Studies, January 4, 2009.
  13. TRI Explorer, EPA, accessed January 2009.
  14. "Study of coal ash sites finds extensive water contamination" Renee Schoff, Miami Herald, August 26, 2010.
  15. "Enviro groups: ND, SD coal ash polluting water" Associated Press, August 24, 2010.

External Sources

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