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Monopoly Power


Public Power


How Are TVA's Values Not Public Power Values?

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  • 🤐 Spreading misinformation to the public
    This is #NotPublicPower. Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) CEO Jeff Lyash stated a series of mistruths on the television talk show Inside Tennessee in May 3, which, when used as the basis for TVA policy, harms Tennessee Valley residents. The incident highlights the need for independent oversight of TVA so that customers are not harmed by the unregulated, federal monopoly treating fantasies as truth. These mistruths include false statements about: - TVA's structure - What caused the February 2021 Texas blackouts, and the reliablity of wind as a power source - TVA's alignment with the Biden Administration on decarbonization efforts and commitments - TVA's nuclear investments and operating units - FERC case where LPCs are asking for access to TVA's transmission lines TVA CEO Jeff Lyash's recent mistruths highlights the need for independent oversight of TVA so that customers are not harmed by the unregulated, federal monopoly treating fantasies as truth. Learn more about TVA spreading misinformation to the public here.
  • 🤐 Blocking the Public from Speaking at TVA Board Meetings
    This is unprecedented and #NotPublicPower. In the past, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) held their Board Meetings publically, allowing citizens to voice their concerns and interact with the board at the quarterly meetings. That changed in August 2018, when the TVA Board announced a listening session would convene the day before the November 2018 meeting and at a different location. TVA claimed it would “allow Directors additional time to more fully consider the comments of the public and encourage people to come speak to the Board.” It became clear that TVA was avoiding -- not encouraging -- meaningful public participation when the details of the listening session weren’t announced until a week before the TVA Board Meeting. If citizens wanted to attend these sessions, they would have to miss an additional day of work to not only address the board, but also witness the Board’s response. Learn more about TVA’s lack of transparency and accountability here.
  • 🤐 Not allowing public access to decision making committee meetings
    This is #NotPublicPower. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) conducts board level comittee meetings quarterly. Decisions regarding ratepayers are made at these meetings, yet the public is not allowed to attend or observe. Once the behind-closed-doors decisions have been made, the TVA Board conducts a fabricated public board meeting, that goes through the optics of a vote that was largely worked out through the committee process. In an attempt to increase TVA's accountability as a public entity, Congressman Tim Burchett has introduced the "Tennessee Valley Authority Transparency Act of 2019," "To require certain meetings of the Tennessee Valley Authority to be transparent and open to the public, and for other purposes." Additionally, the bill would require TVAto provide proper notification to customers of the meetings and would require TVA to provide minutes and summaries of each meeting be accessible to the public. As stated in the TVA ACT, "The Board shall (k) Conduct such public hearings as it deems appropriate on issues that could have a substantial effect on -- (i) the electric ratepayers in the service area; or (ii) the economic, environmental, social, or physical well-being of the people of the service area." TVA should allow the public to view the committee meetings, as they exist to serve the public.
  • 🤐 Withholding Public Information
    As a federal entity, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is required by law to comply with requests made under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, “the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.” In fact, Bill Johnson advised environmental groups to use FOIA to obtain information about TVA employee salaries that the TVA act indicates should be reported annually. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) has submitted fifteen FOIA requests to TVA since 2017, ranging from information on luxury jets and helicopters to details of a public statement in which CEO Bill Johnson alluded to an $8 billion RE Investment Plan at the February 2018 Board Meeting that is also listed on TVA’s website. Nine of those requests have either been denied, or have had substantial information redacted; one from 2017 has yet to be fulfilled. After an initial acknowledgement within the required one-month window, TVA has placed most of these requests on slow-moving “tracks” that can take over a year to fulfill. Out of the fifteen requests, on average it has taken six months for TVA to completely provide the requested information. The requests that were fulfilled in shorter turnarounds (one month - three months) were either denied or had potentially critical public information redacted. TVA is supposed to be public power, but needs far better transparency in order for customers to participate in its decision-making in an informed manner.
  • 💰 Raising regressive fixed fees on customers
    This is #NotPublicPower. Tennessee residents pay some of the highest electric bills in the nation, but TVA tries to distract their customers by touting “low rates.” Over the past seven years, TVA has approved an average 50% increase in mandatory fees charged by its local power companies (LPC). For residential customers, fixed charges have increased much more rapidly than energy rates, leading to a higher proportion of customers’ bills which are fixed, and reduced customer control over their bills. Fixed fees hurt low usage customers such as low-income, single resident, elderly, and fixed income customers, and will lower the value to adopt solar and invest in energy efficiency. To make matters worse, low-income residents already spend an average 12.6% of their income on energy costs (6% is considered affordable), a measure known as energy burden, and are impacted the most when fixed fees increase. In addition to the growing fixed fees charged by TVA’s LPCs to their residential customers, in 2018 TVA introduced a wholesale Grid Access Charge that revised the structure of the wholesale electric power rates those LPCs pay to TVA. This change lowered the standard service energy rate and established a fixed charge that will be based on each LPC’s historic usage rather than its actual, current usage. While the proposals are designed to be revenue-neutral for TVA, in an analysis of the changes TVA said that such a fee has the potential to increase monthly bills for "a majority of residential customers." Indeed, LPCs immediately began to pass the charge on to residential customers. Like the fixed fee increases at local power companies, TVA’s grid access charge means that customers are forced to pay a higher fixed amount every month, even before they flip on a light switch, and they lose the freedom to control their monthly bills through the use of energy efficiency and solar power. Several public interest groups filed suit around the change, alleging that TVA failed to fully examine and disclose the environmental impacts of a rate change designed to discourage the adoption of solar energy. The change is especially concerning for the most vulnerable households; on average, TVA’s lower-income customers use 10% less energy than higher income customers, and pay an average “energy burden” of 12.6% of household income towards their energy bills. One analysis suggested that TVA’s grid access charge could raise average energy costs for these lower-income customers to over 14% of household income. Additionally, "More than 20 power companies and several industry groups agreed to pay $8.2 million in 2017 to a lobbying effort led by Hunton & Williams, just before partner Bill Wehrum took a top job at the EPA. Documents show industry groups strategizing about how to change federal policy through the installation of friendly personnel as regulators."Topping the list of funders were Duke Energy, Southern Co, AEP and Tennessee Valley Authority. This is another example of TVA not being transparent with the public that it claims it serves.
  • 💰 Hiding regressive fees on 85% of customer bills
    This is #NotPublicPower. At least 85% of local power companies served by TVA do not show their monthly fees on customers’ bills, according to a review of residential electric bills from over 100 local power companies -- representing 88% of TVA residential ratepayers. All of these local power companies buy power their from TVA, which reviews their residential rates. TVA was created to serve the people of the Valley, and these customers have a right to know exactly what they’re paying for each month. Not only are these fees hidden for so many customers, but in 2018, TVA added a NEW fee, calling it the “Grid Access Charge.” This new fee has subsequently increased fixed fees on customers bills throughout TVA’s service territory, and has been called a "hidden, regressive tax" that limits the incentives for distributed energy generation and hurts low and fixed-income consumers. These hidden monthly fees are bad public policy and run counter to the very definition of public power. Clean energy is for everyone, not just a select few.
  • 💰 Making special deals for large industrial customers; rising rates and bills for everyone else
    This is #NotPublicPower. Since 2011, TVA has cut rates for industrial customers, shifting costs to residential and small businesses. A 2018 study by Synapse Energy Economics concluded that industrial customers served by TVA saved $1.4 billion from 2011-2016 compared to the average rate trend for all customers; while in 2016 alone, residential customers paid $429 million more than they would have if rates were distributed equally. That’s an average of $110 per customer. Historic trends point to major disparities between the treatment of residential and industrial customers. Since 2008, TVA has offered nearly $500 million to new businesses in discounted rates through the Valley Investment Initiative. This initiative is in addition to the existing incentives that industrial customers already receive from TVA. Learn more about how TVA has managed rates to the detriment of residential customers.
  • 💰Outsourcing Federal TVA Jobs to Other Countries
    This is #NotPublicPower. TVA was created to battle domestic joblessness, but now may contribute to it. As customers across the Tennessee Valley are suffering from the health and economic repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic, TVA – a self-regulated, publicly funded, federal monopoly –recently told more than 120 IT workers their highly-skilled technology based work was being outsourced from Chattanooga, Tennessee over to interanationally based companies with workforces in India and has plans to outsource 100 more. As unemployment rates skyrockets to 30 million, and has hit Tennessee cities like Chattanooga especially hard and where these jobs are based, why is TVA diverting jobs away from the Tennessee Valley? The NY Post recently wrote, “Congress is desperately searching for ways to save jobs, prevent a recession or depression and to keep paychecks coming during a time of crisis, meanwhile a federal entity is sending pink slips to Americans and providing paychecks to foreign nationals,” said International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers president Paul Shearon. “Does this make any sense? Doesn’t this violate not only the needs of our economy now, and also violate TVA’s long-stated mission?” TVA claims that the layoffs are not due to lack of skill, but do to "lack of access to a breadth of tools and experience that other companies can provide." The utility's management have told union workers who's jobs are being slashed the change does not have to do with reducing costs but with "leveraging the market." To add insult to injury, workers getting pink slips will be expected to train their replacements. Senator Jones from Alabama summarized the pending layoffs recently told The Intercept, "It appears that TVA has now forgotten its roots. Formed in 1933, TVA was built to be an economic driver for a region hit hard by the Great Depression. I find it particularly unconscionable for a federal government entity like TVA to outsource jobs held by Americans at a time when the American economy is still in a downward spiral and unemployment is at levels not seen since the Depression that prompted TVA’s formation. As we continue to feel the economic impacts of the pandemic, every job that can be preserved, should be. TVA should acknowledge the negative impact that outsourcing these jobs would have on the Tennessee Valley and reconsider its decision. TVA should be mindful of the pandemic, and the difficult situation that many folks are finding themselves in." On May 12, 2020, Rep. Cohen from Tennessee's 9th-District in Memphis wrote a letter to Congress with his concern over the outrourcing of jobs. Cohen wrote, "It is extremely disappointing that TVA is going against its own mission of “making life better for the people of the Tennessee Valley” and is defending its decision to eliminate these jobs to “leverage the market.”4 Unfortunately, it is clear that Congress must step in to ensure additional jobs are not outsourced as the economy begins to recover from the effects of COVID-19. Therefore, as you negotiate the next coronavirus relief package with the U.S. Senate, I respectfully request the inclusion of language that prohibits federal government agencies, including the TVA, from privatizing federal jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and any other national emergency in the future."
  • 💰Spending Ratepayer Dollars to Advertise a Ratepayer-Funded Monopoly
    This is #NotPublicPower. During the global COVID-19 pandemic, as we face economic uncertainty and unprecedented unemployment rates, TVA is exponentially exacerbated energy burdens their customers face, especially in Memphis, a city that has one of highest energy burdens in the country. If TVA wants to build support in Memphis, and throughout the Valley, it should help struggling customers lower and pay their electric bills by investing in bill-lowering energy efficiency measures, and weatherization programs that can help customers improve the efficiency of their homes, as opposed to throwing ratepayer dollars into a slick advertising campaign in these trying times. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) has submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to find out exactly how many ratepayer dollars TVA has spent on this irresponsible public relations campaign. TVA claims to have created the ads in-house for $85,000, but we are highly suspicious of this number that clearly does not include many other external costs associated with distribution and placement. As a publicly-funded federal entity, TVA must release information on how much ratepayers’ funds are being spent to produce these manipulative ads and saturate TV, radio, and the internet with them in the middle of a health pandemic.
  • 💰 Using customer money to pay utility legal fees for support of TVA monopoly and block transmission access to utility customers wanting to break free
    This is not #NotPublicPower. In January 2021,four of TVA’s utility customers, also called Local Power Companies or LPCs, began a process at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to determine whether TVA is violating federal law by barring utility customers from accessing its transmission. The possibility of LPCs buying energy from sources other than TVA could have significant benefits for ratepayers: as has been demonstrated by Memphis’ utility, customers could save billions of dollars and transition to cleaner, less risky energy supplies if allowed to buy from third parties. Federal law requires utilities to provide open access to their transmission systems, or the high-voltage power lines that transmit power over longer distances. So why does TVA think it doesn’t have to provide transmission service to would-be-former-customers at any cost? If the four LPCs filing this complaint at FERC are successful, it opens TVA up to outside competition. TVA has yet to issue a statement about the FERC complaint. Instead, they are working behind the scenes to manufacture support among utility customers by offering to pay for legal representation if the LPC intervenes on behalf of TVA or posts comments in support of TVA. In addition, when TVA lays out the options it says are available to LPCs to get involved, it only states that the LPC can: 1. Intervene/comment on TVA’s behalf, 2. Show support for TVA, or 3. Do nothing. In fact, despite what TVA might want LPCs to think there is a fourth option: LPCs can intervene in support of opening transmission access for LPCs. If an LPC is deciding whether to get involved, TVA offering to pay for legal fees could tip the scales, leading more LPCs to intervene or comment than would in the absence of this unethical offer by TVA. TVA does not receive funds from taxpayers, it does not receive funds from shareholders, it only receives funds from ratepayers. That means that when families and businesses all across the Tennessee Valley pay their electric bills they are sending that money to fancy DC law firms to defend TVA’s unregulated monopoly and keep them locked into 20-year self-renewing contracts.
  • ☠️ Spending customer dollars to undermine the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act
    Since 2001, TVA spent more than $7 million of customers’ money on membership dues to the Utility Air Regulatory Group (UARG), whose main purpose is to represent utilities reliant on coal-fired generation in lawsuits that undermine Clean Air Act regulations. UARG filed 218 federal court cases since 2000 that attempted to weaken and undermine EPA regulations that protect Americans’ health from toxic emissions such as mercury, smog, and soot. While member utilities of UARG faced increased criticism for being part of the group – and 11 utilities, including giants like Duke and Dominion Energy recently left the group – TVA instead defended its continuing participation, saying that UARG assists them with understanding “highly technical and complex” regulations. Yet, in 2017 TVA gave UARG $450,000 in membership dues, of which the group only spent $250,000 on technical work. The rest was allotted in “anticipation of litigation”. Amid growing public outcry and a Congressional investigation into whether its top officials received special treatment from the Trump Administration, UARG announced in May 2019 that it is disbanding. While this is welcome news, TVA remains a part of two similar secretive utility groups ––Utility Solid Waste Activities Group (USWAG) and the Utility Water Act Group (UWAG). These two groups exist to undermine environmental protections of the Clean Water Act, which includes targeting a 2015 coal ash rule that was proposed after the Kingston coal ash spill, which requires safer disposal of coal ash from coal-fired power plants. As a public utility, it would be unconscionable for TVA to pay customer money to support lawsuits against the EPA, and in fact several groups requested TVA’s Office of Inspector General to investigate. TVA’s mission is to serve the people of the Tennessee Valley, not undermine vital health protections of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.
  • ☠️ Jeopardizing children's health by building a sports center out of toxic waste
    This is #NotPublicPower. Following the Kingston coal ash disaster of 2008, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) failed to communicate transparently about the risks associated with coal ash, resulting in the deaths of more than 40 clean up workers and 400 sick. In August 2021, the Jamie Satterfield at the Knoxville News Sentinel reported, "For two decades, children in Anderson County have been playing — unaware — on a sports field constructed with the Tennessee Valley Authority’s radioactive coal ash waste. The nation’s largest public power provider is now acknowledging it used a mix of dirt and “bottom ash” — the most toxic and radioactive form of TVA’s coal ash waste — to build a ball field that's part of a larger park that contains a playground, as well. The ball field has played host to youth sports games since it opened in 2001." Satterfiled's reporting continues to say, "TVA did not install a clay liner — a thick layer of compacted clay typically used to seal off TVA’s coal ash waste in its dumps — on top of the ball field to protect children from direct exposure to coal ash dust. Instead, TVA said in a statement to Knox News that the radioactive fill dirt mixture was topped with gravel, mulch and slope stabilizers known as “geofibers." TVA did not notify residents or Anderson County leaders that the ball field contains coal ash. The utility also did not warn residents or Anderson County leaders that its coal ash contains concentrated levels of radioactive heavy metals or that coal ash dust is dangerous to breathe. A Duke University analysis commissioned by the Knox News Sentinel in Feburary of 2020shows the TVA Kingston coal ash spill from 2008 contains more than three times the amount of uranium reported in 2009 by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and in 2011 in a joint report from TVA and its disaster cleanup contractor Jacobs Engineering. To date, 48 workers have died in the aftermath of spill clean up efforts, but the untold cost on our children's health as a result of this decision is currently untracked.
  • ☠️ Poisoning coal ash clean up workers and refusing to pay for their healthcare
    This is #NotPublicPower. Following the Kingston coal ash disaster of 2008, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) failed to communicate transparently about the risks associated with coal ash, resulting in the deaths of more than 40 clean up workers and 400 sick. An investigation by USA Today revealed TVA representatives and its contractors convinced coal ash workers that coal ash “had only a handful of harmful substances.” In the same report, TVA supervisors were also blamed for failing to document or act on ailments experienced by workers and refusing to provide adequate protective gear. At a 2009 public meeting, TVA promised to cover healthcare costs for anyone made ill by coal ash exposure, but has since denied responsibility for sickness and death surrounding the spill. Most recently, TVA announced that it may be required to reimburse the clean up contractor as a result of the litigation, and that TVA customers may ultimately foot the bill. In addition, local officials want to test for soil contaminants of a youth sports complex that is on the site of the Kingston coal ash spill. So far, TVA has resisted those requests. As a response, Rep. Steve Cohen and Rep. Tim Burchett have sent a letter to former TVA CEO, Bill Johnson, questioning why TVA hired Jacob's Engineering (Jacobs) to clean up the site initially, given the firms history of worker safety lawsuits and test tampering, as well as, potential knowledge of the dangers of coal ash and workers exposure to it. The letter also questions TVA's reasoning for continuing a business relationship involving worker safety with Jacobs "depsite Jacob's own admission that it lied to workers about the level of risk to which they were ulitmately exposed." TVA continues to avoid responsibility and accountability. A Duke University analysis commissioned by the Knox News Sentinel in Feburary of 2020 shows the TVA Kingston coal ash spill from 2008 contains more than three times the amount of uranium reported in 2009 by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and in 2011 in a joint report from TVA and its disaster cleanup contractor Jacobs Engineering. To date, 48 workers have died in the aftermath of spill clean up efforts.
  • ☠️ Putting off proper clean-up of dangerous coal ash pollution
    This is #NotPublicPower. Despite pressure to protect communities from coal ash following the devastating Kingston spill in 2008, tests show groundwater contamination at every coal-fired power plant TVA operates or recently closed, according to the Environmental Integrity Project. The contamination was confirmed in groundwater testing TVA conducted under the federal Coal Combustion Residuals rule. Heavy metals like arsenic, boron, manganese, and cadmium are some of the most common contaminants found. All are commonly associated with coal ash, the byproduct of burning coal, which is stored in huge, watery lagoons. Memphians are especially worried about the arsenic contamination at TVA’s Allen plant. It sits above Memphis’s main water source, leading to concerns about poisoned drinking supplies. While TVA now plans to remove ash from the site, US Rep. Steve Cohen complained that TVA’s 20-year clean-up plan is too slow. TVA is putting a cap on its ash at most other plants, even where it is sitting in unlined dumps along riverbanks and likely to leach chemicals into water. Meanwhile, the state of Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is investigating the contamination and may ultimately require TVA to re-do its clean-up properly. As a public power company, TVA should be doing exemplary clean-up, not wasting resources on ineffective measures to put a lid on contamination.
  • ☠️ Lobbying to Kill Public Health Protections
    This is #NotPublicPower. News recently surfaced that TVA donated $462,967 to a lobbying firm and was one of the largest contributors to efforts to roll back environmental protections at the EPA. In a story detailing not just the large sums of lobbying money, but also the revolving door of utility lobbyists being hired to run the EPA, Politico found that "More than 20 power companies and several industry groups agreed to pay $8.2 million in 2017 to a lobbying effort led by Hunton & Williams, just before partner Bill Wehrum took a top job at the EPA. Documents show industry groups strategizing about how to change federal policy through the installation of friendly personnel as regulators." Shortly after leading this industry strategy to weaken environmental regulations, Wehrum was named Assistant Administrator of EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. Topping the list of funders were Duke Energy, Southern Co, AEP and coming in at number four Tennessee Valley Authority, which spent nearly half a million dollars of ratepayer funds on this one lobbying firm in 2017 alone. The EPA has since moved to roll back many important public health protections. This is clearly not public power to use ratepayers money to lobby against public health protections.
  • 🤑 Flying executives in luxury corporate jets and helicopters
    This is #NotPublicPower. Clearly no longer your grandfather’s TVA, the “public power” utility has been using ratepayer money to fly TVA’s top executives, and even their spouses, around in style in multi-million dollar luxury jets and even a “Mercedes Benz Style” helicopter with hardwood floors.TVA’s jet was more likely to be flying empty, than with the nine passenger capacity the TVA claimed it needed to accommodate with an $11 million jet. Published October 30 2018, an audit from the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Office of the Inspector General provides additional information surrounding the concerns raised by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy in early 2018 over TVA’s misuse of luxury aircraft. The audit states that TVA failed to follow the required policies and procedures in their use of TVA aircraft. While this report focused specifically on TVA’s helicopter use, questions still remain over millions of dollars worth of luxury jets and a specialized Mercedes Benz helicopter, formerly used by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Elder Jimmie Garland, vice president of the Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP, said the findings show the need for independent oversight of the nation's largest public utility. At the February 14, 2019 TVA quarterly board meeting, "the TVA board did adopt new policies Thursday to require better documentation for the need and types of uses for the corporate aircraft." Time will tell how these new policies will be different than recent trends. After much criticism, it apprears TVA has sold this particiluar helicopter, but they still appear to own mutliple luxury jets in its fleet.
  • 🤑 Paying your executives excessive salaries to do all these things
    This is #NotPublicPower. Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) CEO, Jeff Lyash received $8.1 million in compensation in 2019 and $7.3 million in 2020, while TVA's COO was paid $4.4 million and the CFO was paid $3.8 million in 2020. Former TVA Chairman, Joe Ritch acknowledged that TVA salaries were high compared to other federal employees. Through most of its history, and until a generation ago when TVA revamped its pay system, the federal utility could not pay more than what a member of Congress is paid, now $174,000 a year. “You don't have to pay these kinds of ridiculous salaries to get good people to live and work in East Tennessee," said former U.S. Rep. John Duncan. During a news conference at the White House on April 8, 2020, Trump questioned the $8.12 million compensation package given to TVA President Jeff Lyash and later called for the TVA CEO to receive no more than $500,000 per year. TVA is required through their annual report to make salaries available to Congress and the public. Groups have requested that these annual reports become public record.
  • 🌥️ Killing customer-owned solar programs
    This is #NotPublicPower. TVA has continued to wage war on rooftop solar in recent years, despite misleading attempts to appear solar-friendly. Arbitrary limits on solar programs and discriminatory grid access fees tell the real story. While TVA advertises its Green Power Providers (GPP) Program as a viable option for customers to go solar, it “has not bothered to hide its intent to reduce the rate of solar deployment.” And now, TVA has announced it will cancel the GPP program at the end of 2019. The changes to TVA’s own solar programs and rate structures have made it less economical for TVA customers to go solar, offering a lower credit (below retail value) for the solar energy they are sending back to TVA’s grid. Another one of TVA’s “solar programs” called Distributed Solar Solutions (DSS) went the entire year of 2018 without any program details being announced and is STILL not available to customers. In 2018, energy advocates filed suit against TVA to speak out against their Anti-Solar Rate Change that discourages solar development and entrenches TVA’s monopoly control throughout the Tennessee Valley.
  • 🌥️ Providing clean solar power for Facebook and Google; dirty, high-risk energy for everyone else?"
    This is #NotPublicPower. TVA has recently made contracts with Facebook and Google to provide approximately 800 MW of clean, solar energy to power their data centers in Alabama and Tennessee. While this is a welcome advancement for solar development, what about everyone else? TVA has not been aggressive in pursuing solar options for all -- seemingly only making exceptions when big companies require solar generation to bring their business to the Valley. While TVA is helping to develop Alabama’s largest solar project, the public utility has “openly admitted to attempting to stifle customer-sited solar with internal policy changes.” In TVA's latest 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), they announced a desire to increase their renewable energy resource mix, specifically solar, to rely on more flexible energy. However, contrary to previous IRP goals, this IRP does not list specific goals or provide any commitments to how TVA will implement renewable energy into their current energy mix. TVA vice president of Commercial Energy Solutions, Doug Perry stated, “Solar power has a bright future for families in the Tennessee Valley if we can continue to attract top-tier companies like Facebook." Yet, as they continue to annouce big industry solar partnerships, they fail to announce solar incentives for TVA residents. Contradictory to these promises for more solar, "during a public webinar in February, Tennessee Valley Authority staff qualified that no new solar resources would be added until 2023." What they failed to mention in the webinar, but is listed in their IRP is that TVA manually set up the model so it couldn't choose solar prior to 2023.
  • 🌥️ Killing Clean Line - the largest renewable project ever proposed for the Southeast
    This is #NotPublicPower. In 2011, Houston based developer Clean Line Energy Partners proposed selling energy generated from wind turbines in Oklahoma to the TVA. The deal, cleared by the Department of Energy, would have brought 3,500 megawatts of clean renewable power to the TN Valley for less than the cost of this energy sourced from coal or natural gas generation. The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project would have also helped Memphis propel its reputation as an energy hub for the Southeast by distributing wind generated energy across the 7 states it serves and selling it to other Southeastern utility companies who were interested in sourcing more renewable energy. Clean Line would have terminated in Memphis, requiring TVA to take a small portion of the power at less than 2 cents per kilowatt. After multiple rounds of negotiations, TVA refused to take any of the Clean Line power, effectively killing the project. TVA claimed that electricity sales had fallen flat, and they did not need to invest in more energy resources. Accepting the proposal would have brought, a “long-term supply of power that is clean, that reduces air pollution, that is renewable to help economic development and is lower priced than just burning more fossil fuel,” said Mario Hurtado, the executive vice president of development at Clean Line. "TVA's reluctance" to embrace the Clean LIne project runs contrary to its mission to foster innovation and new technology and to serve as a "living laboratory" for energy and economic development." TVA used to be a leader in bringing energy to the Tennessee Valley and beyond, but they squandered this opportunity to be a leader in renewable energy.
  • 🌥️ Deceiving the public with misleading commitments to renewable energy, like solar"
    This is #NotPublicPower. Despite what the Tennessee Valley Authority wants you to think, the utility does not have any intention of installing 14 gigawatts (GW) of solar over the next 20 years. In reality, the nation's largest public utility has only budgeted for 5.5 GW of solar - recently approved by its Board of Directors (TVA's regulatory body). It is unfortunate that the nation’s largest publicly-owned power entity has to resort to misinformation to cover up failed leadership on renewable energy. TVA currently has less than half as much solar on its system as compared to similarly sized utilities in the Southeast. TVA is behind now and will remain significantly behind over the course of the next five years. Despite headlines, TVA is not on track to add 14 GW of solar. In fact, they’re nowhere near it. The 14 GW of solar figure comes from an extreme case that TVA’s own staff deems unlikely. However, TVA has latched onto this hyperbolic future in order to mislead the public and present themselves as a solar leader despite their continued attempts to block solar in the Southeast. We think it is extremely unethical of TVA to continue to mislead the public into thinking TVA is actually planning to add significant solar in the near term. TVA either needs to put an end to the misinformation, or put forth an actual plan to aggressively add solar. Below is an image from SACE's "Solar in the Southeast" report, comparing TVA to four other large utilities in the Southeast.
  • 🌥️Limiting the amount of renewable energy local utilities can produce by forcing them into self-renewing 20-year contracts
    This is #NotPublicPower.
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