Tennessee Valley Air: Cleanest Ever Measured

In 1969, the federal agency that would become the Environmental Protection Agency declared Chattanooga, Tenn., the “most polluted city in America” because of ozone, particulates and other pollution in the air. Today, Chattanooga is one of the greenest cities in the Tennessee Valley region.

Many other communities have good reason to also make that claim—including Memphis!

Due to the hard work of TVA, Valley industries, vehicle manufacturers and local and state air regulators, air quality has never been as good as it is today. The entire Valley now meets the EPA’s ozone standard, because in July 2016, the EPA re-designated Shelby County, Tenn., from ozone non-attainment to ozone attainment.
Cleaning up the air has been a long road, and TVA has done its part to keep the Valley on a sustainable path to improve air quality and ensure everyone has a great place to live, work and play.

Here's how TVA has helped:

Carbon Dioxide Reductions

TVA has reduced carbon dioxide (CO2 ) emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels, and is on track to reduce emissions by 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. We are:

  • Investing $20 billion in renewable (carbon-free) energy over the next 20 years—with the majority of that spend on wind and solar power purchase commitments.
  • Building a flexible portfolio where 56% of the electricity we use is generated by carbon-free sources—2,600 solar locations, 49 hydro dams, 1242 MW wind, 5 MW biomass and 3 nuclear plants.
  • Generating 13 percent of the Valley’s energy from hydro and other renewable sources.

*Data includes 141,165 tons from units that produce less than 25 megawatts that are not required to report to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Nitrogen Oxides Reductions

TVA installed selective catalytic reduction systems (SCRs) technology at coal and gas units to reduce nitrogen oxides emissions.


Sulfur Dioxide Reductions

TVA switched to low-sulfur coal to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions.

Read More About Ozone Attainment and Air Quality

With Shelby County, Tenn., in compliance, the entire Valley now meets the Environmental Protection Agency's 2008 standard for ozone. What's more, TVA will do its part to keep ozone levels low by shifting toward greener forms of electrical generation—next year, 56 percent will be pollution-free, ahead of President Obama's target for North America to meet 50 percent emission-free electricity by 2025. Read more about TVA's commitment to air quality, and environmental sustainability.

Keeping Water Quality High

TVA’s waterways support multiple uses, including drinking water, navigation, power production and aquatic life. That’s why TVA does all that it can to maintain the highest levels of water quality—including monitoring the lakes and rivers it manages, boosting oxygen in the water, maintaining groundwater assessment programs at each of the 11 coal plants it has operated in the Valley and more. Click here for more information about TVA and water quality.