Hawkins hopes to work with TVA to develop old steam plant property

Jeff Bobo • Updated Aug 28, 2017 at 11:20 AM

ROGERSVILLE — Much like it did with the Phipps Bend Industrial Park 35 years ago, Hawkins County hopes to work with the Tennessee Valley Authority to prepare the retired John Sevier Steam Plant site for potential industrial development.

Hawkins County Industrial Development Board Chairman Larry Elkins told the IDB Thursday he recently met with the TVA and some of its site development consultants on the property just south of Rogersville, which until earlier this year was home to the old steam plant facility.

The coal burning plant was constructed in 1956 and produced electricity until the new gas plant next door went online in 2012.

Demolition of the old plant began last year, and in May the last remaining structures, the two 350-foot-tall smokestacks were brought down.

As was the case when the TVA’s Phipps Bend nuclear plant project was scrapped in 1980, demolition of the old steam plant has left a substantial piece of vacant land that is prime for industrial development.

The power plant itself sat on 50 acres, but TVA owns hundreds of vacant acres in the vicinity.

Elkins said the TVA is currently developing a new footprint to determine how much of that property can potentially be developed and for what possible uses.

“They’d like to see it developed, and we’d love to work with them,” Elkins told the IDB Thursday. “I encouraged this from the get-go about letting us get involved. We’ve been pretty successful at Phipps Bend and that abandoned site, and we can work with them on this one also.”

The land, however, has its benefits and its drawbacks.

Among the drawbacks are the access roads including Route 66 and Route 70, which are two-lane. There is also no sewer.

On the other hand, the property is beside the Holtson River, there is rail access, and the 925-megawatt, natural-gas-powered John Sevier Combined Cycle Plant is right next door.

Elkins noted that the property would have been perfect for some companies in need of a lot of electricity, raw water, and rail access, that have considered Hawkins County for development in the past.

“You’ve got the raw water intake built by TVA in the 1950s, and you’ve got the slew putting it back in,” Elkins told the board. “It’s a perfect place if you’ve got the right kind of industry.”

TVA Vice President of General Construction Bob Deacy told the Times-News this past December that the steam plant would be prime industrial property once the demolition had been completed.

“We are committed to working with local officials for future use of this site,” Deacy said. “TVA has an economic development group that will work with the local officials as we look to determine what the future use of this site could be. The site is going to be left in what we call a brownfield state. Where the old coal plant once was, there will just be a grassy area that will almost look like a pasture. We call that brownfield because there will be some remaining infrastructure out there.”

Deacy said the property would be a good location for a wildlife preserve or an industrial park.


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