SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Improving TVA’s Long-Term Planning


During 2010 and into early 2011, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) underwent their first long-term integrated resource planning (IRP) process in more than 15 years. SACE Executive Director Dr. Stephen A. Smith identified the need for the IRP in his testimony about the 2008 Kingston coal ash spill before the U.S. Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee in January of 2009; ultimately, Dr. Smith was chosen to serve as one of 16 IRP Stakeholder Review Group members.

During the IRP process, SACE called for TVA to fully consider efficiency as an energy resource on par with traditional supply-side generation sources, and to contemplate retiring the oldest, dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the Tennessee Valley. The final IRP, adopted during TVA’s April 2011 board meeting, sets a goal of retiring between 2,400 and 4,700 MW of coal-fired generation.
At the same board meeting, a historic legal settlement was announced between TVA, the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other parties over Clean Air Act violations.In the settlement, TVA agreed to retire 18 coal units by 2018, which represents approximately 2,730 MW of coal-fired power generation, and to make sizeable investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. SACE has long called for TVA to shut down these specific inefficient, polluting coal units.

Then, at their August 2011 meeting, TVA’s board announced that two additional coal units will be retired, bringing the total number to 20. The board also voted to approve construction of air pollution control devices at two Tennessee coal plants: Gallatin and Allen. The number of retirements and upgrades will continue to grow as TVA continues to implement their IRP. Ultimately, the EPA settlement and the IRP mean that by no later than 2019 all of TVA’s coal fleet will be either cleaned up or shut down.

SACE’s analysis of the IRP showcased the potential of energy efficiency as a resource to help TVA meet future energy demand. In large part, any decrease in energy production resulting from the coal retirements can be offset by energy efficiency programs. The IRP includes steadily rising contributions from energy efficiency, up to 14,400 gigawatt-hoursin annual demand reductions by 2020. TVA has determined that these important new goals can be achieved without negatively impacting customers’ rates.

During the IRP, SACE also challenged TVA to aggressively pursue renewable energy resources. While TVA’s renewable energy goals are not at the level they should be, SACE’s engagement forced TVA to target a higher amount of renewables than they would have without our influence.

SACE plans to remain closely involved in the implementation phase of the IRP to advocate for the most beneficial outcome for residents of the Tennessee Valley. The EPA settlement and IRP represent a major shift in TVA’s once-reluctant attitude toward energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy; SACE is proud to have played a major role in educating TVA on the feasibility, safety, and desirability of these measures. Moving forward, we are hopeful that TVA will become a national leader by providing customers safe, affordable, reliable, and clean energy.