MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Tennessee Valley Authority held a public meeting in Westwood Tuesday to discuss a proposed multi-million dollar project to upgrade its gas plant in Memphis.
According to the Tennessee Valley Authority, the project is still in its early stages. Poster boards filled a room inside Mount Vernon Baptist Church as community members came out to get their questions answered.
The presentation was prepared by the Tennessee Valley Authority to welcome comments and concerns about proposed upgrades to its Allen Combustion Turbine Pant in Southwest Memphis.
“Public input is extremely important to TVA any time we make decisions about adding new assets, anything that might impact people who pay their power bills,” said TVA spokesperson Scott Brooks
The current project calls for modernizing the plant which the TVA says will lead to a safer and more secure power supply.
Community organizer Richard Massey is advocating for South Memphis residents. He’s among those who claim the changes will do more harm than good.
“This community has had a long extensive daunting history with environmental racism whether we want to acknowledge it or not,” Massey said.
However, the TVA said the proposal will benefit all of its customers by making the grid more stable.
“What we’re looking at is building highly modern, highly efficient, 200 megawatt aero-derivative combustion turbines which is basically a fancy name for a natural gas turbine plant,” Brooks said.
The TVA said it would investigate any health concerns and laid out a timeline. The public will be notified if the project will move forward in late 2024. If approved, construction will start in 2025 and the plant will open in the spring of 2026.
Massey’s hoping they consider all the optics before getting the green light.
“It’s the continuation of corporations designating historically black communities as a sacrifice zone,” he said. “We really have to elevate ordinary people, ordinary South Memphians who are concerned about this, who don’t know whether or not the random spontaneous illnesses in their family are going to continue.”
TVA said it’s committed to looking at all environmental concerns as well as other highly asked questions about billing and the impact this might have on Memphis Light, Gas and Water.
“It’s not expected to impact power bills at this point,” Brooks said. “You’re not going to take a plug at MLGW and put it directly into these units but it protects the grid stability across the 7 states that MLGW is a part of.”
TVA said this is a public process so it will continue to seek public comment. Comments can be submitted online or by email at NEPA@tva.gov. You can also learn more about the project at tva.com/allenct.