As reported by National Public Radio, Trump has asked the Tennessee Valley Authority to ignore its own experts and keep a coal-fired power plant operating although it should be closed. The request has drawn suspicion because the plant in question buys coal from a company led by one of Trump’s large campaign donors, Murray Energy Corporation Chairman, President and CEO Robert Murray.
In an environmental assessment, TVA proposed that the coal plant be retired. The report reads, "As a large coal unit with medium operating costs and a high forced outage rate, as well as the need for significant repairs, PAF Unit 3 does not fit current and likely future portfolio needs."
This is a continuing trend for TVA, as they have begun closing coal plants in favor of other ways to generate electricity, such as renewable energy or natural gas.
Yet, Trump tweeted on Monday, “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!”
The agency responded via Twitter, "Mr. President, coal is an important part of TVA's power generation mix and we will give serious consideration to all factors as we make this decision."
The TVA board of directors has nine members. Four of these members were appointed by Trump and two of the posts are currently unfilled. The board could either vote on whether or not the plant should be closed at its quarterly business meeting on Thursday, ot it could delay the decision.
The board will have a public hearing on Wednesday. Environmental groups say that they will show up to the hearing and ask that the coal plant be closed.
"Coal is a bad choice for the people of the Tennessee Valley. Not only because it's uneconomical but because it's a dirty way to generate energy," says Jonathan Levenshus with the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign.
Murray Energy Corp. wrote a statement which says, "In the interest of the TVA ratepayers, the remaining coal-fired unit at the Paradise Plant must remain in operation. The power will be more reliable and lower cost."
Coal consumption in the U.S. has now hit its lowest point in almost forty years.