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.

Google opens Clarksville-Montgomery County data center

Google recently opened its new, $600 million data center in Montgomery County. The data center’s power usage is matched with 100 percent renewable energy as part of a deal with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). 

The Clarksville data center will employee a range of professionals, including engineers, maintenance, computer technicians, and more. Governor Bill Lee, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Bob Rolfe, Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durett, Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts, TVA CEO Jeffrey Lyash, Austin Peay State, and University President Dr. Alisa White joined Google executives for the opening ceremony on November 6.

“We welcome Google to Clarksville and are thrilled with the growing technology sector right here in Tennessee,” said Governor Bill Lee. “Our highly skilled workforce and Google’s reputation for innovation will be transformational for this area and beyond.”

Since initially announcing its investment in the area, Google has given more than $450,000 to local nonprofits and schools. The company has also worked with Austin Peay State University on the Southeastern Grasslands Initiative.

“While this project is a part of a larger nationwide network of data centers, Google has worked hard to make a strong local impact. We are grateful to Clarksville and Montgomery County for welcoming us into this great community, and that is why we have made a concentrated effort to give back,” said Enoch Moeller, Google Data Center Site Lead. “We are thankful for the strong partners we have met throughout the process including, the State of Tennessee, both local governments, the Montgomery County school system, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Austin Peay State University, and many more.”

Google executives said from the outset of the deal being finalized that Clarksville-Montgomery County offered many of the most desired attributes on the company’s site-selection checklist. Those include a trained and tech-savvy workforce, as well as the right energy infrastructure and pad-ready, developable land.

(Some information used from The Leaf Chronicle)

Innovation Crossroads applications for Cohort Four are due on Halloween!

Interested in applying for the Innovation Crossroads program or know an aspiring energy entrepreneur who should? The application deadline for Cohort Four is tomorrow, October 31 at 5:00 p.m. EDT. 

Innovation Crossroads is an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) program that matches aspiring energy entrepreneurs with experts and mentors in technology-related fields to take their world-changing ideas from R&D to the marketplace. Participants receive a two-year fellowship and lab access and funding to support their innovations. They also have access to entrepreneurial training and exclusive networking opportunities. 

To be eligible to apply, applicants must have a PhD or equivalent experience; be focused on energy or manufacturing innovation; leverage ORNL R&D capabilities and have an impact on the Department of Energy or TVA mission; be willing to relocate to the Knoxville-Oak Ridge area; and be a lawful U.S. citizen or permanent resident. 

Here are some key dates and information to keep in mind about the application timeline:

  • Applications close: October 31, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. EDT
  • Initial application review: November 2019 – Applications are reviewed by the Innovation Crossroads team, as well as scientific and industry subject matter experts
  • Phone interviews: December 2019 – Based on initial review, selected applicants will be invited to conduct a brief phone screen with the Innovation Crossroads team.
  • In-person interviews: January/February 2020 – Interviewees will be invited to visit ORNL to tour facilities, connect with potential collaborators, principal investigators and mentors, and present for our team of reviewers.
  • Cohort Four selected: March 2020
  • Cohort Four starts at Innovation Crossroads: May 2020

Ready to apply? Click here for the application. Contact innvcrossrds@ornl.gov if you have any questions.

TVA seeks comment on Draft Environmental Assessment regarding private-scale solar programs

TVA is seeking comment on its Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) of the proposal to close the Green Power Providers program and bringing a new private-scale solar offering to market.

The public comment period runs October 9 through November 8. The Draft EA and online comment form can be found at www.tva.com/nepa. Or here.

As the market evolves, TVA continually evaluates its renewable programs and strategic direction. While utility-scale solar provides the least-cost approach to add solar in the Valley, market analysis also highlights the demand for private-scale solar. TVA believes that this new offering will reflect the needs of those wanting to invest in private solar.

Background

TVA, partnering with local power companies and TVPPA, has supported solar generation in the Tennessee Valley through a number of pilots and programs for nearly two decades in order to gain knowledge, experience, and promote solar as a renewable option to our customers. Today we have 3,745 installations providing 1,099 MWAC operating and contracted capacity.

In 2017, a stakeholder group, the Solar Strategies Initiative, was convened representing multiple interests to offer a recommended path forward. Three key recommendations had strong support:

  • TVA should focus efforts on utility scale projects
  • Solar growth should follow demand and economics
  • Resources and efforts are needed to educate customers

Consequently, TVA has evaluated its renewable programs and proposed closing the Green Power Providers program effective January 1, 2020. To address the demand for private-scale renewables, TVA and its partners, including TenneSEIA, is working to propose a new private-scale solution. Using input from people across the valley a concept was put forward and is now under review in the Draft EA. It contains:

  • A network of qualified installers
  • Installation guidelines, best practices, inspection standards, and commissioning protocols
  • Training and educational material

If approved, the new private-scale solar offering will go into effect in 2020.