Feb 5, 2021: TVA: time to update its core promise?

Is it time to update the TVA Act of 1933? Low energy rates and access have long been considered the priority. Nearly a century ago to enable the TVA rural customers needed to be wooed with access and low cost. Is it time to rebalance these priorities with more aggressive action to reduce carbon emissions?

Now is a good time to think about the TVA. At the Federal level there is focus on climate change policies. Also, the TVA is set to update its long-term energy plan in 2022.

TVA has cut CO2 60% from 2005 levels and has set goals to
reach 70% by 2030 and 80% by 2040. Is that enough? Fast enough? It is unlikely that it will meet the Biden administration’s clean energy goal to fully decarbonize its electricity mix by 2035.

There’s been a lot of mixed news coming out from TVA: a sweeping electric vehicle charging expansion, moving forward on a small advanced nuclear reactor at a site southwest of Knoxville, replacing shuttered fossil fuel power plants with new natural gas-fired generation in Kentucky and Alabama, and adding more solar. Sadly, the TVA does little for energy efficiency. In fact, Tennessee is the second worst state; only Alabama has a worse record on energy efficiency. It has also been noted that the TVA is allowing for customers to be charged fees for solar.