In-Valley renewables missing from TVA draft Integrated Resource Plan

Guest Blog | October 15, 2010 | Energy Policy
Tennessee workers installing Tennessee-made solar panels.  TVA's draft plan to meet future energy demand leaves the Valley's renewable energy resources out.
Tennessee workers installing Tennessee-made solar panels. TVA's draft plan to meet future energy demand doesn't do enough to develop the Valley's renewable energy resources.

TVA’s draft Integrated Resource Plan is missing something: a serious commitment to developing the Valley’s renewable energy resources.  With significant solar, bioenergy and wind resources available throughout the TVA territory, these resources, along with energy efficiency, should be TVA’s go-to resources for meeting future energy demand.  With the draft plan now out for public comments, it’s up to us to tell TVA we want these resources developed.

Overall, TVA’s Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) process has been a positive step forward for the Valley, with TVA recognizing the need to increase energy efficiency while transitioning away from its reliance on coal-fired generation.  But TVA’s assessment of the potential for In-Valley renewables to meet a significant part of the Valley’s energy demand has been disappointing.  As members of the IRP Stakeholder Review Group, SACE advocated for TVA to reconsider its weak assessment of the Valley’s renewable resources, but we were unable to convince TVA that it was undervaluing these resources.

Fortunately, TVA can still be convinced that the Valley’s renewable resources need to be a larger part of our energy future.  The ongoing comment period provides the opportunity to tell TVA we want a clean, renewable energy future that includes the Valley’s renewable resources.  It’s going to take our collective voices because even TVA’s most aggressive renewables portfolio simply falls short. 

In-Valley renewable energy resources could make up a significant part of TVA future generation mix.
Buffalo Mountain wind farm in east Tennessee.

TVA’s draft Plan looks at several different strategies for meeting energy demand through 2029, narrowing the options to three recommended strategies based on the potential costs and risks of each.  The recommended strategies are then evaluated based on their environmental impact, economic impact and the potential for technological innovation.  After public comment and some additional analysis, TVA staff will put forth a preferred strategy to the TVA Board of Directors for consideration.

Of the draft Plan’s three recommended strategies, TVA’s EEDR and Renewables Focused strategy, (EEDR stands for “energy efficiency and demand response), sets forth the largest renewable energy package of 3,500 megawatts (MW) by 2020.  This would represent about 6.4% of TVA’s baseline forecasted energy demand in 2020, and is made up of a combination of both in-Valley and out-of-Valley renewable energy resources.

However, a closer look at the ratio of in-Valley versus out-of-Valley resources reveals that this 3,500 MW is heavily skewed towards out-of-Valley wind instead of taking an aggressive approach to developing the renewable energy resources available in the Tennessee Valley.

Breakdown of TVA’s Proposed 3,500 MW of Renewable Energy

In-Valley renewables make up only a fraction of TVA's proposed renewable energy package.
In-Valley renewables make up only a small fraction of TVA's proposed renewable energy portfolio.

Contrary to some claims, there are enough renewable energy resources in the southeast region to meet a renewable energy target of 20% by 2020.  This includes the Tennessee Valley.  Whether it is federal law or not, TVA should be striving to meet aggressive targets for developing in-Valley renewable energy resources.  The Southeast’s solar, wind and bioenergy can provide clean, cost effective energy while creating jobs, strengthening local economies and reducing our impact on climate change.  But TVA must be on board.

Make no mistake, TVA shouldn’t pursue 3,500 MW of renewable energy with a higher proportion coming from in-Valley renewable resources.  TVA should pursue a higher level of renewable energy, made up of the same level of out-of-Valley wind coupled with a much higher level of in-Valley solar, wind and biomass.  It’s an aggressive approach to developing the renewable resources of the Valley that’s going to drive the Southeast’s clean energy economy.

TVA's release of its draft resource plan for public comment provides a unique opportunity to make our voices heard.
Click here to make your voice heard.

Take this opportunity to tell TVA we want the Valley’s renewable energy resources developed, and keep an eye out for more opportunities from SACE to learn about TVA’s IRP process, like our October 26th webinar: Integrated Resource Planning: a TVA Case Study.

For more information on the Valley’s renewable energy potential, TVA’s integrated resource planning process, or other aspects of our energy future, visit our website.

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