Report Release: TVA Could Save Billions By Choosing Clean Energy

Economic and Emissions Benefits for TVA Customers.

July 13, 2022
Contact: Ricky Junquera, [email protected], 617.599.7048

Synapse Report


TENNESSEE — Today, the Sierra Club and partners submitted comments into the Cumberland DEIS docket along with a commissioned Synapse report outlining a better path forward for TVA to replace retiring coal generation with renewable energy, battery storage, and energy efficiency commitments. Synapse completed a system-wide modeling analysis for TVA’s power generation to determine how TVA’s plans to move forward with combined-cycle gas plants as replacements for the retiring Cumberland and Kingston coal plants compare to plans that would instead include solar and storage (a Solar/Storage Replacement scenario) or wind, solar, storage, and energy efficiency (a Clean Portfolio Replacement scenario). This analysis uses TVA’s own assumptions from its 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) but also incorporates the rapid decline in renewable costs to present a more accurate view of resource options available as replacements for retiring coal.

“Synapse, a well-respected energy analysis firm, finds what we have long believed– TVA can quickly shift coal plants to renewable energy to more fully meet its charter for environmental stewardship and affordable energy for the Tennessee Valley.” Amy Kelly, Tennessee Beyond Coal Representative, Sierra Club.

The results of the Synapse modeling analysis show that both the Solar/Storage and Clean Portfolio scenarios offer cost savings and dramatic pollution reductions compared with TVA’s business-as-usual approach and that TVA can reliably and economically meet its customers’ needs for capacity and energy without coal generation or new gas units. Instead, early investment in energy efficiency and the deployment of new solar, wind, and battery resources can result in a least-cost portfolio that also accelerates TVA’s path to decarbonization.

The Synapse modeling resulted in the following overarching findings:

  • Replacement portfolios that rely exclusively on renewables and storage will achieve the same level of reliability as a replacement portfolio that consists largely of combined cycle and combustion turbine replacement capacity.

  • Both replacement portfolios result in customer savings relative to the Business-As-Usual scenario. The Solar/Storage Replacement scenario saves an estimated $5.8 billion from 2022 to 2042 compared to the BAU, while the Clean Portfolio Replacement saves $8.9 billion.

  • A resource portfolio that avoids investments in new gas capacity results in greater emissions reductions over the next 20 years and puts TVA on a clear path toward achieving net-zero CO2 emissions in 2050.

“The analysis from Synapse is yet another confirmation, this one looking at TVA specifically, that a diverse and customer-focused clean energy system is a win-win-win. It lowers customer bills, reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and improves resilience in the face of extreme weather. TVA must adopt a clean energy portfolio to replace Cumberland rather than lock customers into continued volatile fossil fuels.” Maggie Shober, Research Director at Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

“This report clearly shows that TVA’s pro-gas arguments simply don’t hold water,” said Gaby Sarri-Tobar, energy justice campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Clean, renewable energy and storage, and energy efficiency, will save customers money, reduce pollution and help tackle the climate emergency. If TVA really wants to benefit communities and not just prop up dirty fossil fuels it will retire its coal plants early and invest in energy efficiency and renewable, distributed energy.”

“This analysis proves what clean energy advocates have been saying for years. New gas infrastructure is costly, risky, and unnecessary. Instead, clean energy investments will yield billions in savings to regular folks.” Daniel Tait, Executive Director, Energy Alabama

Synapse Energy Economics is a research and consulting firm specializing in energy, economic, and environmental topics. Since 1996, Synapse has provided rigorous analysis to help public interest, electric utility, and governmental clients improve planning, policies, and decision-making in the energy sector.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit