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TVA's Billion Dollar Plan

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By Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter

It's a billion dollar project that will likely increase your utility bill. TVA is changing the way it handles coal ash in the wake of the Ash Spill at its Kingston Plant.

The power provider hopes to close all coal ash ponds in the next ten years.

It took NewsChannel Five on a tour of its Gallatin Steam Plant which has five different coal ash ponds.

"We inspect them daily," said William Hunt who the Environmental Program Administrator at the Gallatin Plant.

He says the ponds are safe.

Closing the ponds will cost up to two billion dollars. TVA is moving to dry ash storage, which essentially means the ash will be buried in landfills.

TVA wants to keep the ash from the Gallatin Plant somewhere on the two thousand acre property of the Gallatin Steam Plant.

"Basically you'll have a mountain or hill of this dry ash which will be covered by clay or grass," Hunt said.

During the tour of the plant, TVA showed us its four generators are operating a full capacity in the midst of the summer heat.

Right now, TVA gets about half its electricity from coal.

The agency is reviewing how to meet the energy demands of the future.

"Do we build new coal plants?" asked Jim Hoagland TVA's Vice President of the Office of CEO. "Do we build new nuclear plants? Do we do more energy efficiency? In the end the result will probably be a combination of all that," he said.

TVA hopes to decrease its dependence on coal, but says solar and wind power are more expensive and less dependable.

With the slow economy, TVA does not expect to reach record demands for energy this summer, but they are preparing for when the economy turns around.

"Right now we feel pretty comfortable we can meet whatever current demand is, but certainly that will change as the economy begins to grow again," Hoagland said.

Email: bhall@newschannel5.com

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