TVA seeks public input on flexible power generation until May 4, TAEBC to submit comments

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has released a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) about its decision to allow local power companies (LPCs) to add flexible generation options. The utility is seeking public input on the draft until May 4, 2020. TAEBC intends to submit comments. If you have any questions or comments for TAEBC, please email TAEBC Executive Director Cortney Piper.

In February, the TVA Board of Directors approved a set of principles allowing the 138 LPCs that have signed long-term partnership agreements with TVA to generate up to 5 percent of their average energy needs for customer use. This locally generated energy could derive from solar, wind, biomass or other small forms of distributed generation.

TVA’s draft EA evaluates the potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts of two alternatives: no action and implementing the flexibility option. In the draft, TVA states the utility would benefit from the flexibility because “it would enhance the Valley’s energy resource diversity and would be responsive to customer demand for renewable energy resources.”

TAEBC champions advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy in Tennessee. This flexibility proposal allows local power companies to offer new renewable energy options to customers, which helps strengthen the role of advanced energy in the region.

Due to current federal work requirements due to COVID-19, TVA recommends the public submit comments electronically to ensure their review and consideration. Learn more about the flexibility proposal or how to submit comments here

TVA now accepting proposals for 200MW of renewable energy

TVA is now accepting proposals to develop 200 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy that can be brought online by the end of 2023. The deadline for proposal submissions is April 24. 

According to the Request for Proposal, the utility is interested in procuring up to 200 MW of new stand-alone renewable energy resources or renewable energy plus battery energy storage systems, including all the associated environmental attributes. 

TVA procured more than 1,300 MW on behalf of customers through similar requests for proposals in 2018 and 2019. According to the utility, large-scale solar costs 80 percent less than private-scale solar and delivers the best value for renewable energy across TVA’s seven-state service territory.

Recently, the TVA Board of Directors approved six flexibility principles in its February meeting that may grant local power companies the ability to buy or generate power on their own. Previously, TVA sought public input on the potential environmental impacts of a 150-MW solar project in Lincoln County, Tennessee. The power provider entered into an agreement with Elora Solar, LLC to purchase power generated by the proposed solar facility.

TAEBC champions advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy in the state. This move allows TVA to provide more clean, reliable energy for their customers.

The utility provider will announce the selected proposals in fall 2020. To review TVA’s RFP and submit bids, visit this link

Former House Speaker and ETSU president nominated to TVA board

President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate former Republican Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell and East Tennessee State University (ETSU) President Brian Noland to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors.

According to TVA, board members are nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. Each member serves for five years. 

Harwell became the first female speaker of the house in 2011. Since losing a race for governor in 2018, she has been working in the private sector and teaching classes, including one at Middle Tennessee State University.

Senator Lamar Alexander released a statement about Harwell’s appointment, saying, “I have encouraged and admired Beth Harwell and her style of leadership since she began her career in public service. Throughout her time in the Tennessee House of Representatives, and as Speaker of the House, Beth has worked with the TVA on several issues. She understands that TVA’s mission is to continue to provide cheap, clean and reliable electricity throughout the Tennessee Valley, and I know her leadership will be a valuable asset to the TVA board. I am glad President Trump nominated her, and I look forward to her confirmation by the United States Senate.”

Noland has been the president of ETSU since 2012. Previously, he was the chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education System.

Alexander also championed Noland’s appointment in a formal statement, stating, “Brian is a respected leader in East Tennessee, and during his tenure as president, he has helped transform Tennessee’s fourth largest university, East Tennessee State University. His administrative experience makes him the right person to help keep TVA on a good path – to continue to provide clean, cheap, reliable electricity at the lowest possible rates for homes and businesses through the seven-state Tennessee Valley region. I hope the Senate will quickly consider his nomination and look forward to his confirmation.”

Rebates offered to local power companies in exchange for signed long term TVA contract

Cheaper power is being offered to municipalities and power co-ops across TVA’s jurisdiction, so long as they agree to sign 20-year contracts with the federal energy company.

Last year TVA approved a budget plan suspending further wholesale rate increases while also offering a 3.1% monthly rebate to any of the 154 TVA distributors that sign these contracts.

Since October 2019 more than 80% of TVA customers have signed the 20 year agreements to receive electricity from this company. This period of service is greater than the previous agreements period. Under TVA’s latest $10.6 billion spending plan, the federal utility ends the six-year-long pattern of base rate increases.

Local power companies who do choose to sign these contracts are also granted the flexibility to either develop or purchase up to 5% of their electricity from other sources, including renewables.

However, some of the largest power companies in TVA’s jurisdiction have not yet signed these contracts, and they include Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Huntsville, Alabama. These account for nearly half of TVA’s operating revenue.

Memphis Light, Gas & Water (MLGW) is studying what would be the benefits and risks of leaving TVA and whether it can save money doing so. This study won’t be completed until May 2020, and a MLGW spokeswoman has cited no decisions will be reached until that comprehensive outlook is done.

It should be noted, Nashville Electric Service so far is the only one of TVA’s largest customers that has signed TVA’s 20 year contract. Nashville leaders are looking for its own deal with TVA regarding this matter, as Music City’s mayor John Cooper announced in early December that he will be negotiating with the federal utility for more advanced energy options for Nashville’s municipal buildings.

TVA released its latest IRP last year, detailing plans on how best to meet future electricity demands over the next 20 years.

TVA seeks public input on Elora Solar Project by Jan. 3

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is seeking public input on the potential environmental impacts of a 150-MW solar project in Lincoln County, Tennessee, by Jan. 3. The power provider has entered into an agreement with Elora Solar, LLC to purchase power generated by the proposed solar facility.

The Elora Solar Energy Center would be constructed, operated, and maintained by Elora Solar, LLC on approximately 1,700 acres in the county. According to the draft environmental assessment, there are two alternatives:

  • No Action Alternative: TVA would not purchase the power generated by the project under the 20-year agreement with Elora Solar and would not be involved with the project. 
  • Action Alternative: Elora would acquire land to construct, operate, and maintain a single-axis tracking photovoltaic solar power facility. TVA would purchase the power generated.

Under the power purchase agreement, “TVA’s obligation to purchase renewable power is contingent upon the satisfactory completion of the appropriate environmental review and TVA’s determination that the proposed action will be ‘environmentally acceptable.'”

To submit comments online, please email esmith14@tva.gov, or send by mail to 400 West Summit Hill Drive, WT 11B-K Knoxville, TN 37902. Follow this link for more information.