TVA making efforts to keep public engaged in planning process

Guest Blog | October 13, 2009 | Coal, Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Nuclear

As you probably know, TVA is currently engaged in a resource planning process that will shape how TVA meets future energy needs in the Tennessee Valley over the next 20 years.  While SACE has been unsuccessful in advocating for complete transparency in the planning process, several steps have been adopted to try and include the public, one of which is TVA’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) webpage that includes useful information relevant to the planning process, including several of the presentations given by TVA to the External Stakeholder Group.  TVA has also agreed to make certain Stakeholder Group meetings open to the public and will provide several opportunities for the public to provide comments as the planning process proceeds.

It is unfortunate that the Stakeholder Group, which includes interests ranging from power distributors to state officials to environmental and business interests, voted to keep their monthly meetings confidential.  This vote does little to move the process forward while degrading the already damaged confidence that the public has in TVA.  SACE’s Executive Director, Stephen Smith, who serves on the Stakeholder Group, voted to make these meetings open and to have official transcripts of the meetings available to the public.  He, unfortunately, was in the minority on both votes.

However, as a result of recent public outcry, TVA has just recently agreed to provide public access the certain Stakeholder meetings and to provide additional commenting opportunities as the planning process progresses.  We commend TVA’s efforts to balance between the need to provide a forum for open and honest discussion amongst the Stakeholders and the need to allow for adequate public participation in the planning process.  SACE will continue to advocate for more openness and transparency in TVA’s decision-making processes and we are hopeful that current and future Board members recognize the public’s desire to engage in a meaningful way and take actions to provide that opportunity on a regular basis.

While TVA’s current planning process is far from perfect, we do encourage you to stay as informed as possible by accessing the information provided on TVA’s IRP website and by participating in future opportunities to provide input to TVA.  The website provides links to several fact sheets that describe the various generation resources available to TVA (although it provides significantly less in the way of demand-side options such as energy efficiency and distributed generation).  The webpage also links to several of the meeting reports that are presented at the Stakeholder Group meetings, providing details into TVA’s current situation, the planning process, and TVA’s efforts at developing energy efficiency and renewable energy resources in the Valley.  Finally, the webpage allows visitors to contact the Stakeholder Group, as a group or individually, to voice comments and concerns.

All of the information provided will help inform the public and allow them to more meaningfully engage in this process as the opportunities arise.  SACE continues to advocate for these opportunities.  Also, once the draft plan is prepared, a formal comments period will take place.  For those wishing to engage, SACE encourages you to visit the TVA IRP website, contact the Stakeholder Group with your thoughts and concerns, and to participate in the upcoming comment periods.

While TVA’s efforts to engage the public in its resource planning efforts fall short of making all Stakeholder Group meetings public or providing official transcripts, it is important for the public to make clear to TVA that they are watching.  One way is to take full advantage of the opportunities provided to engage in the planning process and to continue calling for increased openness and transparency moving forward.

SACE will continue to inform the public of opportunities to engage in TVA’s planning process through this blog and Action Alerts to our members.  It is important that TVA hear from its constituents that energy efficiency and renewable energy are important resources that must be developed.

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