TVA to reshape agreements with local power companies, approves six flexibility principles

During its February 12 meeting, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors approved six flexibility principles that may soon grant local power companies the ability to buy or generate power on their own.

These principles will grant more flexibility to the 154 municipalities and power cooperatives that purchase TVA’s power and sign long-term agreements with the utility. Under these principles, the organizations will have the right to buy or generate up to 5 percent of their power (or 1 megawatt for small distributors) from sources other than TVA.

“This is certainly significant in that we’ve never done this before,” said TVA President Jeff Lyash. “But we recognize that the industry is changing with technology and customer demands to both keep electric rates low while moving to cleaner energy sources.”

According to TVA, the board adopted the following six principles

  1. Energy resource sites must be documented, metered, operated, and connected in a manner consistent with applicable TVA standards.
  2. Valley Partner energy resources will either displace demand and energy usage that TVA would have otherwise charged to the Valley Partner under the prevailing wholesale power rate structure; or, Valley Partner energy resources will be treated in accordance with an economically equivalent wholesale crediting mechanism.
  3. Each Valley Partner may deploy energy resources in an aggregated capacity amount not to exceed the greater of (1) 5% of that Valley Partner’s energy, where energy is the average hourly capacity usage, initially over TVA fiscal years 2015 through 2019, or (2) one megawatt of aggregated capacity.
  4. All Valley Partner energy resource facilities must be distribution scale and located within the service territory of the Valley Partner. Exceptions to the location requirement, due to circumstances such as restrictive siting, may be approved by the CEO after notice to the Finance, Rates, and Portfolio Committee.
  5. Valley Partner energy resource output must be provided or distributed only to the Valley Partner’s end-use customers.
  6. A Valley Partner’s energy resource implementation must be consistent with TVA’s Integrated Resource Plan to ensure that TVA’s system carbon position is improved.

This decision comes after 135 of TVA’s 154 municipalities and cooperatives have signed 20-year power purchase contracts, with Chattanooga’s EPB signing the agreement last month and Memphis Light Gas and Water still studying whether or not to sign. 

TVA is looking to develop more of its own utility-scale solar generation, recently announcing it is boosting its solar energy capability by 44 percent from 2019 by adding 284 megawatts of new contracted solar generation from five new projects in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.

Oak Ridge National Lab to help EPB improve Chattanooga’s smart grid

The City of Chattanooga’s smart grid is about to get even smarter with the help of the Oak Ridge National Lab.

The Oak Ridge National Lab, the U.S. Department of Energy and the city-owned EPB signed an agreement this week for DOE researchers and computer experts from Oak Ridge to help EPB better analyze and control the volumes of data gathered continuously from the utility’s fiber-optic network attached for the past couple of years to Chattanooga’s electric grid.

“This partnership is real and we intend to move forward immediately in ways that hopefully can improve the reliability and efficiency of our electric system,” EPB Chairman Joe Ferguson said today after signing a memorandum of understanding to work with DOE and ORNL.

Chattanooga boasts the fastest citywide Internet links of any city in the Western Hemisphere, thanks to the federally-funded EPB fiber optic network. EPB got $111.6 million in federal stimulus funds nearly five years ago to help build its fiber optic network across its 600-mile service territory. EPB has installed more than 1,100 IntelligRuptors, which are smart grid devices that both alert system controllers of power problems and isolate outages.

EPB President Harold DePriest said the smart grid has already helped reduce outage times in Chattanooga by 60 percent and with Oak Ridge assistance, he hopes to identify new ways to make the grid smarter, more reliable and even faster.

EPB’s smart grid gathers meter readings from users once every 15 minutes, or nearly 3,000 times more often than the manual monthly meter readings used in the past. The Oak Ridge laboratory, which boasts one of the fastest and biggest computers in the world, will provide engineering scholars at EPB to study, sort and analyze the data from the smart grid. ORNL Lab Director Thomas Mason said such data analysis should not only help EPB get better but to develop systems to help electricity providers improve around the country.

Read the full story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press here.

Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press