Storm damage to cost TVA up to $200 million

Storm damage to cost TVA up to $200 million

May 24th, 2011 in Business Around the Region

The toppled transmission tower in Alabama is one of 353 poles or towers TVA is replacing or repairing in Alabama and Mississippi. Contributed Photo by TVA

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By the numbers

  • $150 million to $200 million: Estimated cost for TVA from the April 27 storm
  • 153: Number of tornadoes in the Tennessee Valley on April 27
  • 353: Number of TVA towers and poles toppled in the storm
  • 108: Number of TVA transmission lines damaged in the storm
  • 847,000: Number of customers who lost TVA power in Alabama and Mississippi
  • 4,000: Number of TVA contractors and employees involved in restoring service

Sources: Tennessee Valley Authority, National Weather Service

The tornadoes that ripped through the Tennessee Valley on April 27 could cost TVA up to $200 million in lost power generation, sales and repair expenses.

In a regulatory filing Monday, TVA Chief Financial Officer John Thomas said TVA ratepayers likely will see slightly higher bills this summer to recover the cost of buying replacement power because of the loss of TVA's largest nuclear power plant and other storm-related expenses. The storms - the costliest ever for TVA - brought a record 153 tornadoes into TVA's seven-state region.

"The majority of these costs will be reflected automatically in rates through TVA's fuel cost adjustment mechanism," Thomas said.

The higher fuel cost adjustment is likely to hit ratepayers in July, although the amount of the increase is yet to be calculated, officials said.

TVA restarted its oldest nuclear reactor at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant over the weekend. But the federal utility still is getting only limited output from its biggest nuclear plant more than three weeks after tornadoes cut its power.

Ray Golden, TVA's nuclear communications director, said the Unit 1 reactor at Browns Ferry was operating at about 19 percent capacity Monday after workers restarted the reactor Friday afternoon.

The two other reactors at Browns Ferry still are idle, although TVA is working to resume generation at those units, Golden said. Browns Ferry workers were restarting Unit 2 on Monday and that unit could begin generating power as soon as today.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, TVA said repairing damaged transmission lines in Alabama will cost up to $30 million. TVA is having to spend far more to replace the power lost when all three reactors at Browns Ferry shut down.

The Browns Ferry units were safely shut down using power from emergency diesel generators, Golden said. But TVA was unable to operate any of the units for more than three weeks and still is working to get the reactors reconnected to the power grid and service back to normal after a half dozen major transmission lines in and out of the Browns Ferry plant were crippled during the storms, Golden said.

E-mail Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.