Welcome, new TVA Board members!
You now have the opportunity to ensure the Tennessee Valley Authority uplifts people and communities throughout the Tennessee Valley by fulfilling the mission of affordable clean energy, economic development, and environmental stewardship.
The delivery of this mission is incumbent on strong TVA Board leadership, which includes accountability and transparency.
As a member of the TVA Board, it is important that you prioritize these five objectives:
- Accountability and oversight of TVA, starting with an independent review of the blackouts of December 2022.
- Transparency and meaningful public participation, particularly surrounding major TVA decisions and events.
- A broader approach to economic development that goes beyond a focus on load growth to include both reducing energy burdens for customers and increasing energy efficiency while also growing jobs.
- As an extension of the federal administration, bring the TVA into alignment with the administration’s commitments to long-term carbon reduction goals by effectively implementing energy components of the Bipartisan Infrasture Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.
- Begin the development of a comprehensive Integrated Resource Plan immediately so that TVA can keep its commitment to complete an IRP every five years.
As a TVA Board member, you have the power to lead our nation’s largest public utility toward a stronger future so that it uplifts not only our people and communities in the Tennessee Valley but also serves as an example for the nation. We look forward to supporting and working with the TVA Board.
For more information on the five priorities listed above:
1. Accountability and oversight of TVA, starting with an independent review of the blackouts of December 2022.
- Private utility oversight occurs primarily at the state level through Public Service Commissions. As a public power entity, TVA cannot be held accountable by these state-level regulators, and instead TVA’s oversight falls to the TVA Board of Directors and US Congress.
- After Duke also instituted rolling blackouts on Christmas Eve 2022, the North Carolina Utilities Commission spent 3 hours asking pointed and technical questions of Duke Energy on January 3, 2023.
- When asked by a Tennessee lawmaker whether the public would have input on TVA’s review of the blackouts events, TVA was not able to provide a clear way for the public to be involved.
2. Transparency and meaningful public participation, particularly surrounding major TVA decisions and events.
- After TVA implemented rolling blackouts on December 22 and 23, 2022, the public learned more about what was going on with TVA’s system on those days from federal energy data and oversight of neighboring utilities (including Duke Energy and Southern Company) and market regions (such as PJM and MISO).
- TVA did comprehensive modeling of its system to evaluate the costs and reliability of various ways to replace the retiring Cumberland coal plant. But we were not able to obtain key information about the assumptions, or even the absolute results, of that modeling, even after filing requests through the Freedom of Information Act. This kind of modeling is very sensitive to changes in assumptions, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that information informing decisions such as how to replace Cumberland be available to the public. The Environmental Protection Agency, in its comments to TVA on the Cumberland decision, recommended that TVA “transparency disclose its modeling methodologies and assumptions to better enable a comparison between the alternatives.” TVA did not.
3. A broader approach to economic development that goes beyond a focus on load growth to include both reducing energy burdens for customers and increasing energy efficiency while also growing jobs.
- TVA’s current economic development plan focuses on bringing in new businesses that grow the need for electricity
- In addition to that economic development, TVA should also focus on clean energy resources that grow jobs and make energy more affordable, such as solar and energy efficiency
- Examples from across the country and in our own region show the potential for growth and stability in local economies with investments in clean energy
4. As an extension of the federal administration, bring the TVA into alignment with the administration’s commitments to long-term carbon reduction goals by effectively implementing energy components of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act.
- The Bipartisan Infrastructure bill includes funding for programs that could improve reliability of TVA’s grid and bolster connections to neighboring grids, which can blunt the impacts of extreme weather on any single region.
- The Inflation Reduction Act includes many ways for TVA and its customers to save money, drive stable local jobs, and reduce environmental impacts through clean energy resources like energy efficiency, solar, energy storage, and electric vehicles. In fact, TVA is called out by name in the text of the bill as a key potential recipient of these financial incentives.
- These federal programs exist and are paid for by taxes from TVA customers, so TVA should make a point of maximizing the benefits of these programs, but it appears TVA is hesitant to embrace the numerous opportunities these laws opened up, as evidenced by the light discussion of the IRA in the final Environmental Impact Statement on the decision to replace Cumberland.
5. Immediately begin developing a comprehensive Integrated Resource Plan so that TVA can keep its commitment to complete an IRP every five years.
- A hallmark of good electric utility practice is to go through a comprehensive future planning process. In fact, a majority of states require the utilities they regulate to do so every 1-2 years.
- TVA’s last planning process concluded in September of 2019. Major changes since then, such as TVA’s decision to retire all of its coal plants by 2035, the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act, and even rolling blackouts in December 2022, were not a part of TVA’s 2019 Integrated Resource Plan.
- TVA’s IRPs include modeling and a stakeholder process that typically takes 18-24 months. The previous process ran from February 2018 through September 2019.
- Yet TVA staff say the next IRP will not begin until “late 2023” and thus is unlikely to be finished by the end of 2024 to meet TVA’s requirement that it complete an IRP every 5 years.