Protesting New Rate Scheme, High Bills, and Lack of Solar Progress, Energy Customers Speak Out at TVA Board Meeting

Guest Blog | August 22, 2018

Concerned citizens to host their own “TVA Run-A-Round” this Saturday at TVA’s Chattanooga office

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Earlier today, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors convened their quarterly meeting and heard from more than a dozen customers from across the state frustrated with high bills, disappointed in TVA’s lack of innovation, and tired of TVA giving them the run around on energy.

This was the first meeting since TVA’s board voted to approve a misguided new rate structure that will likely hike bills on the Tennessee Valley’s most vulnerable residents and diminish clean energy progress. While TVA’s CEO, Bill Johnson, continued to talk about TVA having low rates, the fact remains that energy customers do not pay a rate, they pay a bill every month, which is based on their total energy usage plus added fees.

TVA customer bills are currently some of the highest in the nation, ranking number seven nationally for high bills according to Energy Information Administration. The rate-structure vote in May followed a rushed and inadequate public engagement process, ignoring comments from customers at TVA board meetings in opposition to the proposal and further exacerbating the high bills issue. As the base rate continues to increase, along with increasing fixed fees and cuts to energy efficiency, it is expected that bills are likely to continue to rise.

Fed up with yet more run around from this federal monopoly, a group of TVA customers are hosting an actual “TVA Run-A-Round” in Chattanooga this Saturday. Planning to physically run around the TVA office building, these concerned citizens are ready to give TVA a tongue-in-cheek taste of their own medicine, and the general public as well as media is invited to attend and participate:

What: TVA Run-A-Round .5K Race

Where: 1001 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN 37402-2620, United States

When: Saturday, August 25, 9 AM – 10 AM ET

“We are tired of TVA continuing to incentivize higher energy users while families and small businesses throughout the Valley are burdened with incredibly high bills every month,” said Elder Jimmie M. Garland, NAACP-TN Vice President. “Now, with the new ‘Grid Access Charge,’ customers may see even higher bills. This is bad rate design and increases the already heavy burden on some of our most vulnerable communities.”

The data shows that 40 percent of households on TVA’s system have an income at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income. These low-income households use 10 percent less electricity than the average household. Despite using less electricity, the fee hikes TVA has proposed could mean that a significant number of low-income households will pay more on their monthly electric bills.

Citing examples of intentionally misleading claims about low rates and unsubstantiated promises of investment in renewable energy, Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy stated: “TVA executives, with the support of you as Board members, continue to give Tennessee Valley electric customers the run around with misleading and false informationâ?¦ It shows how dysfunctional this Board’s External Relations Committee has become, by allowing staff to block transparent information and supporting questionable claims by TVA staff and leadership, the behavior we have come to expect from a unaccountable federal monopoly. We ask that TVA renew its commitment to reducing energy burdens, promoting clean energy, transparency and protecting customer rights.”

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy created a video explaining the difference between “rates” and “bill” as well as an accompanying blog:

Video Link:

Blog link –