SACE members speak up to tell TVA: No new fossil gas!

SACE members and residents across TVA’s service territory are submitting comments through June 10 encouraging TVA to remember its core mission and embrace low-cost, clean energy options such as energy efficiency, solar, and storage in lieu of more gas infrastructure.

Kate Tracy | June 8, 2021 | Alabama, Fossil Gas, Tennessee, Utilities

Brady Watson, former Civic Engagement Coordinator for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, also contributed to this blog post.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is currently weighing energy replacement options for its five remaining coal-fired plants, which it plans to retire by 2035–and the nation’s largest public utility has indicated it is strongly considering replacing these plants with new fossil gas plants and gas pipelines. 

TVA’s CEO Jeff Lyash has previously stated “aspirations” to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. According to SACE’s recent “Tracking Decarbonization in the Southeast” report, TVA is unlikely to achieve this if it continues to decarbonize at its projected rate and follows through with its intention to build 1,500 MW of fossil gas capacity to be online by 2023. TVA’s stated intentions are also out of step with the Biden Administration’s goal of decarbonizing the nation’s electric grid by 2035. 

While TVA’s plans to replace coal with gas is like “two steps forward, one step back,” the reality is that TVA could take many more steps forward by prioritizing clean energy. SACE members across TVA’s service territory recognize that and are speaking out against TVA’s plans to build large, expensive, and unnecessary gas power plants that threaten public health and often disproportionately harm frontline, low-income communities and communities of color who have already borne the brunt of the environmental harms of these dirty energy sources.

In addition to our call for no new fossil gas, SACE continues to call on TVA to initiate and update its integrated resource plan (IRP) and begin the proper procedures to follow the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in order to accelerate 100% decarbonization of its grid by 2035 at the latest.

SACE members and residents across TVA’s service territory are submitting comments through June 10 encouraging TVA to remember its core mission and embrace low-cost, clean energy options such as energy efficiency, solar, and storage in lieu of more gas infrastructure. We encourage you to join SACE members and take one minute to do the same.

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TVA states on its website it was founded out of the New Deal in 1933 with a mission “to harness the potential of the rich resources in the Tennessee Valley region to make life better for the people who call it home,” and “We are inspired daily to pursue new ideas and innovative solutions to improve our service to you.” SACE members like Sharon and Marlene submitted comments that remind TVA of its roots of bringing electricity to customers in the Valley and beyond, how it changed lives, and TVA’s commitment to continue doing so utilizing modern technology:

As you know, TVA was important in bringing electricity to Tennessee decades ago. At that time, it brought Tennessee into the modern era. Now we are in our own time demanding we use present advanced technology to maintain the best future possible for this area.” – Sharon Z., Sewanee, TN

TVA brought power to people who would have waited years longer for a resource that changed lives. Alternative, GREEN energy is the largest growth market for employment in the state. It is also the only way to save the catastrophic effects of using fossil fuels. There is no reason why TVA shouldn’t be the innovative leader of the development of green energy technology and implementation in the world. At the same time, bringing quality, safe, good paying jobs to the people you serve. So, PLEASE, show our country and the world what it looks like when an energy leader turns to clean energy.” – Marlene C., Chattanooga, TN

Furthermore, TVA already has access to the technologies and equity-focused policy roadmaps to help chart a path to reach 100% clean electricity sooner than its aspirations, and align itself with science, the public, and what the federal government has called for. By utilizing modern technologies and best practices, TVA should help ensure that electricity customers are fairly compensated for their investments in clean energy like rooftop solar, and do not shoulder unaffordable energy bills.

“Please allow Net Metering, Solar and Storage models, and increase exploration of other hydroelectric and wind production models. Stop burning fossil fuels. Net Metering is the best hope of a sustainable energy future, even if TVA will make less money. Do what is best for your constituents, not what makes you the most money.” – Seth H., Memphis, TN 

There is no reason to add more generating equipment which produces carbon dioxide and so puts the USA further from our goal of reducing carbon dioxide production. Renewable power should be used for whatever lost power production from the Cumberland plant actually needs to be replaced after efficiency measures and supply management has been applied.” Dick E. Birmingham, AL

I am a 79 year old widow thinking about my grandchildren and I urge TVA to consider safe energy efficiency.” – Sylvia W.,  Knoxville, TN 

“My training is in the biological sciences and economics. Please follow the wise lead of the Biden Administration and do not take us in the wrong direction. As the nation’s largest public power provider, TVA should lead the transition to clean energy with a goal of 100% clean energy. You have the resources and the technical know-how to achieve this goal and should use this opportunity to chart a path for the rest of the country to follow. Now is the time for TVA to be a leader for the nation.” – Memphis, TN

SACE members Bob and Brian remind us of the urgency TVA must take to act swiftly and rapidly decarbonize with modern technology and equitable policies for the sake of today and tomorrow’s generations.

Don’t let TVA become a dinosaur. By just switching to another carbon dioxide emitting technology vs. coal, you are continuing to exacerbate & speed up climate change. We only have a few years of carbon budget left before 1.5C cannot be met, and by committing to long term emissions of carbon dioxide via construction of gas plants vs. renewables, you are committing a crime against humanity. The children of Kali will remember what you do, so you had better be on the side of humanity’s long-term saving of the planet – our one and only support structure. Forget net zero: we need zero carbon emissions now, so renewables are absolutely necessary. It’s my recommendation that the whole TVA board be replaced with members committed to a non-carbon based solution to climate change. So, you had better get on board to hit the road.” -Bob B., Tullahoma, TN

I’ll be brief–you already know the problem. Global warming due to greenhouse gasses threatens our very existence. Only effective leadership and industry have the ability to move the needle in any significant way. With the closing of the coal plants there is an opportunity to replace that energy source with green energy. We need a big step forward, not a small one. TVA must say NO to fossil fuel plants as the replacement.” Brian J., Farragut, TN

To put what TVA should do simply, Jackie from Nashville says it best: 

I applaud you for taking the step to PHASE out coal-fired plants. Take the NEXT STEP and seriously consider RENEWABLE options rather than FOSSIL FUEL options.” Jackie S., Nashville, TN


TVA’s new fossil gas plan is not yet final, and the time to influence our public utility is now! At a time when TVA should be leading the transition to 100% clean energy, this is unacceptable. 

TVA claims it “is foremost a public power company, which means we care what you think,” and is accepting public comments on its future plans to replace capacity at the Cumberland coal plant in Stewart County, Tennessee until Thursday, June 10. 

If you haven’t already, please consider adding your voice to those above by submitting a quick comment, calling on TVA to invest in clean, renewable energy, not new fossil gas!

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Kate Tracy
This blog was written by a former staff member of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
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