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TVA CEO talks about coal, hydroelectric rates

By Megan Gorey
Published On: Mar 19 2013 05:11:44 PM CDT
BRISTOL, Tenn. -

When it comes to producing electricity for the Tennessee Valley Authority, coal has been a major player for years.

But air quality issues are now the cause of several coal-fired generators being shut down or switched to natural gas.

TVA CEO Bill Johnson spoke to the Bristol Rotary Club Tuesday afternoon.

He talked about the future of coal in the federal utilities overall power producing plan. "People talk about the United States as the Saudi Arabia of coal. It's one of the two natural fuel sources we have that we can exploit. We need to find a way to do it cleaner, less environmental impact but I think we'll be using coal in this country for decades to come," Johnson said.

He also talked about hydroelectric power and how steady rainfall helps keep it cheap. "That rainwater goes into the dam, turns the turbine and it does help because its cheap power. The problem is when you get all the rain at once you can't make all the power at once so steady rain throughout the year is helpful but we look at rain as liquid fuel."

Johnson has been on the job for about 75 days with the TVA.