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Congressman James Comer

Representing the 1st District of Kentucky

Congressman Comer Critical of TVA Closing Paradise Plant

February 8, 2019
Press Release

Today Congressman James Comer submitted a video message to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Board of Directors urging them to vote against the closure of Unit Three at the Paradise Fossil Plant near Drakesboro, Kentucky in Muhlenberg County.

The transcript of the message is as follows:

“Thank you for the opportunity to share my concerns over TVA’s discussions to retire Paradise Fossil Plant Unit Three. TVA has long been a valued asset to my congressional district, not only because of reliable electricity but also economic investments in the region. Paradise Fossil Plant is one of those critical investments and its closure would have a devastating impact on not just my constituents, but ratepayers across the region. That’s why I call on you to suspend any decision to retire this last remaining coal-fired unit at Paradise.

Unit Three directly employs 131 Kentuckians and supports approximately 135 Kentucky coal miners who supply necessary fuel that powers hundreds of thousands of homes in surrounding communities. Your own environmental assessment claims that these workers could find other jobs, but then admits those jobs would pay as much as $29,000 less than they’re earning today. The assessment calls this economic impact “minor.” I’ll tell you today that for my constituents, that loss of jobs and income is anything but minor.

TVA’s own Integrated Resource Plan calls for a “diverse portfolio of supply and demand-side resources.” I agree. A diverse energy portfolio is important for ensuring reliable and affordable electricity. But by closing Unit Three, along with other recent and proposed closures of coal-fired units, TVA further limits its energy portfolio, not diversifies it. Over the last decade coal has gone from being more than half of TVA’s energy portfolio to just 26 percent in Fiscal Year 2018.

Finally, I have concerns about the process of reaching this decision, one that has grave implications for Kentuckians. Instead of doing a more thorough environmental impact statement, which I’m confident would show the impacts on our community to be even more severe, TVA opted to conduct a less detailed environmental assessment. That assessment was made public during the busy holiday season and afforded the public only 30 days to review it and comment before it was made final. Such a rushed process makes one wonder if TVA was truly prepared to consider alternatives.

In closing, I’ll reiterate my appreciation for all that TVA does in my district and for your service as board members. As board members, I’m sure decisions like this are never easy. That’s why I remind you of the implications your decision will have on my constituents. I urge you to wait until a full and thorough review of the impacts can be conducted so an informed decision may be reached. This is all in the best interests of those in the surrounding communities and across the region who will be affected by this.

Thank you for your time.”

 

BACKGROUND:

 

On July 5, 2018, Congressman Comer met with community leaders in Muhlenberg County, including Rep. Melinda Gibbons Prunty, to discuss constituent concerns about a possible closure. Congressman Comer’s staff began communications with TVA to urge them to keep Unit Three open.

On October 2, 2018, Congressman Comer met with TVA officials in his Washington, D.C. office to again communicate the importance of Unit Three and to urge them to keep it open. 

On December 4, 2018, Congressman Comer joined with his federal colleagues Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Rand Paul in strongly opposing the closure of Paradise Unit Three and urged the public to submit comments to TVA on the matter. Those remarks can be viewed here.

On December 12, 2018, Congressman Comer held a conference call with Muhlenberg County officials to discuss local issues and the need for community members, including the Muhlenberg County School system, to submit comments on the impact of closing Unit Three to TVA. 

On December 19, 2018, Congressman Comer joined with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to express deep concern over TVA’s Draft Environmental Assessment and called on TVA to suspend any decision to retire Unit Three. That letter can be viewed here.

On February 5, 2019, Congressman Comer again met with TVA officials in his Washington, D.C. office to urge them to keep Unit Three open.