Environment

Tennessee Valley Authority wrecked a little bit of paradise on Thursday when demolition experts imploded three cooling towers at the former coal plant in Muhlenberg County. 

TVA retired the final coal-fired generating unit at the Paradise Fossil Plant in 2020 — the largest coal retirement in the country at that time. 

The nation’s largest government-owned energy provider recorded the moment the towers fell Thursday with a series of cameras, including drones that flew over the 435-foot-tall towers as they collapsed. 

“The decommissioning program directly aligns with TVA’s commitment to environmental stewardship and economic development as we execute safe, environmentally sound, and cost-effective projects across TVA’s power service area,” said Charles Chappell, general manager of decommissioning.

A company tweet pledged the property would be redeveloped to advance the “energy system of the future.” Currently, about 45% of TVA’s energy portfolio comes from coal and natural gas, according to a company website. 

Paradise generating unit 3 was one of the biggest power plants in the world when it came online in 1970. But after 49 years in service, TVA decided Paradise was no longer economically viable. 

Singer and songwriter John Prine helped to make the power plant famous with a song called “Paradise” that lamented the loss of the natural beauty of the area as a result of the coal industry. 

TVA replaced the plant in 2017 with an approximately $1 billion dollar natural gas combined cycle plant. 

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter.