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 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.

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.”

TVA Board of Directors Approves 2019 Final Integrated Resource Plan

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors approved the 2019 Final Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) at its quarterly business meeting in Knoxville, Tenn. After a Record of Decision is published in September, TVA will retire its 2015 IRP and begin using the 2019 IRP as its long-term plan to meet energy demands over the next two decades.

TVA took input from stakeholders and the public during the 2019 IRP drafting process to make sure it continues to provide reliable, affordable and clean electricity throughout the region. Following the release of the draft IRP on Feb. 15, 2019, TAEBC submitted comments in April. The final 2019 IRP and associated Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) were published in July. 

TVA updated its previous IRP to allow for a more dependable and flexible power-generation system that effectively leverages more renewable energy sources and distributed energy resources. According to the 2019 IRP’s Executive Summary, TVA found:

  • There is a need for new capacity in all scenarios to replace expiring or retiring capacity.
  • Solar expansion plays a substantial role in all futures.
  • Gas, storage and demand response additions provide reliability and/or flexibility.
  • No baseload resources (designed to operate around the clock) are added, highlighting the need for operational flexibility in the resource portfolio.
  • Additional coal retirements occur in certain futures.
  • Energy efficiency (EE) levels depend on market depth and cost-competitiveness.
  • Wind could play a role if it becomes cost-competitive.
  • In all cases, TVA will continue to provide for economic growth in the Tennessee Valley

For more information about the 2019 IRP, please visit TVA’s website.

TVA Board of Directors nominee confirmed by Senate, other nomination announced

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The US Senate has confirmed Memphis attorney John Ryder as the newest member of the TVA board.

Nearly 13 months after he was first nominated by President Trump, Ryder will assume the seat vacated nearly two years ago by Mike McWherter.

Ryder’s term runs through 2021 on the 9-member TVA board, which currently has only seven members.

Ryder’s first public meeting with the full TVA board will be on May 9 when the TVA governing board meets in Franklin, Tennessee.

President Trump has also nominated Chattanooga native William B. Kilbride to a member of TVA’s board.

Kilbride formerly served as the president and CEO of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce and as president and chief sustainability officer of Mohawk Industries.

Kilbride’s nomination still has to be accepted by the US Senate before he could serve on TVA’s board. His term would run until May 18, 2023 replacing Eric Martin Satz.