The Tennessee Valley Authority is considering whether it should spend $1 billion to upgrade the pollution controls at its coal-burning plant in Gallatin.
While you might think environmentalists would support the plan, that's not the view hundreds of people who turned out for a meeting Thursday expressed.
The auditorium at the Looby Center on Rosa Parks Boulevard was packed with people who don't want the Gallatin steam plant upgraded. Instead, they want it gone.
The crowd included members of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups. They want TVA to get the message that they feel it's not worth investing $1 billion upgrading a coal plant they believe is a dinosaur whose time has passed.
"So far, they have just forged ahead with their plan - outdated plan - to install costly scrubbers. We want them to consider their other options and chose the Clean Energy 21st Century option," said Chris Lunghino, with the Sierra Club.
TVA is conducting environmental studies to decide the future of the plant, because all coal-fired plants will have to meet new mandates under the Clean Air Act in the next few years.
"We're doing environmental assessment right now, and part of that environmental assessment is collecting public comment," said Bill Sitton, with TVA.
The Sierra Club wants TVA to save the money and invest it in programs that will cut energy use.
"They have programs that train households to conserve energy. They have weatherization programs where they offer a rebate after an energy audit," Lunghino said.
Those energy efficiency programs, she said, would replace the jobs lost by closing the plant.
"We need both energy efficiency - we need some coal, we need all the other resources we have - to meet the needs of the Tennessee Valley, so balance is really what we're looking at," Sitton said.
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