Well, Abe of Brookville Daily Photo was quick on the draw yesterday, and he was absolutely right. The answer to yesterday's mystery is Electricity. And it's generated at the Bull Run Steam Plant right outside of Knoxville on the Knox/Anderson County line. This single-generator coal fired power plant, built in 1967, is managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
As I understand it, the coal heats the water to produce steam, which is pumped under very high pressure into a turbine which spins a generator which produces electricity, which makes all the little lights in my apartment blink on when I flip the switch.
Now, coal fired plants in the Southeast have been notorious for their toxic emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide, and mercury into the air. And we all know that what goes up must come down. Kind of like the stock market. But I digress. What came down was acid rain. What we breathe is smog. Visibility in the Great Smoky Mountains has decreased over the years from 93 to 25 miles.
TVA has spent a shipload of money on emission control on this plant over the years, including burning low sulphur coal, and adding a scrubber to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions. But many older plants were "grandfathered" in before the Clean Air Act became law, so in effect, we've closed the barn door while the horse is still galloping madly around the pasture.
The closeup from yesterday is part of the vintage 60s sign on the visitor's overlook. You can tell it was a different world back then. Bull Run was Built For the People of the United States of America. I'm glad that TVA saw fit to spell that out for me. It would be rather inconvenient, I should think, if it was built for the People of some other country while it was sitting here in the middle of East Tennessee. I'd be especially grateful, though, if they'd build some Green Power plants for the People to replace these coal-burners.
I'm also impressed that Homeland Security didn't present me with a one-way ticket to Gitmo when I whipped out my camera to take some photos of the plant. Thanks, guys!