Widows Creek Fossil Plant

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Widows Creek Fossil Plant
Widows Creek Fossil Plant-7.jpg
Widows Creek Fossil Plant
Widows Creek Fossil Plant is located in Alabama
Widows Creek Fossil Plant
Location of Widows Creek Fossil Plant
Country United States
Location Jackson County, near Stevenson, Alabama
Coordinates 34°53′03″N 85°45′18″W / 34.88417°N 85.75500°W / 34.88417; -85.75500Coordinates: 34°53′03″N 85°45′18″W / 34.88417°N 85.75500°W / 34.88417; -85.75500
Status Being decommissioned
Commission date Unit 1: July, 1952
Unit 2: October, 1952
Unit 3: November, 1952
Unit 4: January, 1953
Unit 5: June, 1954
Unit 6: July, 1954
Unit 7: February, 1961
Unit 8: February, 1965
Decommission date Unit 7: September, 2015
Owner(s) Tennessee Valley Authority
Thermal power station
Primary fuel Bituminous coal
Cooling source Tennessee River
Power generation
Units decommissioned 8
Nameplate capacity 1,600 MW
Annual net output 9,000 GWh

Widows Creek Fossil Plant (also known as the Widows Creek Power Plant) was a 1.6-gigawatt (1,600 MW) coal power plant, 4.8 miles (7.7 km) east of Stevenson, Alabama. The plant, operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, generated about nine billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. It has one of the tallest chimneys in the world at 305 metres (1,001 ft), which was built in 1977.


Initially, six identical 140-MWe units were built between 1952 and 1954. Two more units (575 and 550 MWe name-plate capacity) were added in 1961 and 1965.[1][2]

The last load of coal was delivered to the plant on September 18, 2015, with only one of its eight generation units working. The coal was enough to power Unit 7 until September 23, 2015.[3][4]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

January 2009 gypsum slurry spill[edit]

On January 9, 2009, the plant experienced a dam break on a gypsum slurry pond, and spilled up to 10,000 US gallons (38 m3) of waste (possibly including boron, cadmium, molybdenum and selenium) into the creek of the same name on the property, inundating it with an ashlike substance.[5]

EPA compliance agreement[edit]

On April 14, 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority to resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations at 11 of its coal-fired plants in Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee.[6] Under the terms of the agreement, the entire Widows Creek plant will be affected:[7]

  • Units 1–6 will be retired in stages of two units per year, beginning by July 31, 2013 and ending by July 31, 2015
  • Units 7 & 8 will be fitted with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) devices to reduce their emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx)


On June 24, 2015, Google announced it would invest $600 million to install a data center on land made available by the retirement of Units 1-6. A renewable power capacity equivalent to the data center's needs will be added somewhere on the TVA system, so the data center will run on renewable energy.[8] The project broke ground in April 2018.[9]


  1. ^ "Widows Creek Fossil Plant Celebrates 50 Years of Service" (Press release). Tennessee Valley Authority. September 12, 2002. Retrieved January 9, 2007. 
  2. ^ "Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2006" (Excel). Energy Information Administration, U.S. Department of Energy. 2006. Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  3. ^ "Last load of coal delivered at TVA's Widows Creek plant". Times Free Press. September 19, 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Even Appalachia Is Walking Away From Coal". www.slate.com. The Slate Group. October 2, 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2016. 
  5. ^ Dewan, Shaila (January 9, 2009). "Waste Spills at Another T.V.A. Power Plant". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ Tennessee Valley Authority Clean Air Act Settlement
  7. ^ Federal Facilities Compliance Agreement Between EPA and TVA
  8. ^ Gammons, Patrick (June 24, 2015). "A power plant for the Internet: our newest data center in Alabama". Google. Retrieved June 25, 2015. 
  9. ^ Flessner, Dave (April 9, 2018). "Google building $600 million data center on former TVA coal plant". Times Free Press. Retrieved April 9, 2018. 

External links[edit]