Three years ago in its last long-range power plan, the Tennessee Valley Authority foresaw the need to curtail its reliance upon its aging fleet of coal plants and to turn to nuclear, natural gas and energy efficiency to meet its future power demands.
But TVA power planners didn't expect as big of a drop in electricity demand as has occurred in the Tennessee Valley and the country as a whole. Despite a growing economy, TVA now expects to sell 13 percent less power in 2027 than it did two decades earlier - the first sustained reversal in the growth of electricity usage in the 85-year history of TVA.
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› TVA will conduct a public scoping hearing to gather ideas for its Integrated Resource Plan at an open house from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 27, at the Westin Hotel in Chattanooga. › Information is available online at tva.com/Environment/Environmental-Stewardship/Integrated-Resource-Plan
The drop in demand, combined with the growing appeal of distributed energy generation from solar, wind and battery storage, has caused TVA to move up by a year its schedule for undertaking its next Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to outline its energy options for the next 20 years.
Brian Child, senior manager of long-range financial planning at TVA, said Wednesday the new IRP will outline options for TVA to pursue over the next two decades and will help the federal utility develop a new long-range financial plan by next year.
TVA currently is committed to reducing its debt to $21.8 billion by 2023, but that could be accelerated if TVA determines it needs more flexibility or could have trouble managing such a debt level.
TVA kicked off its public comment for the scoping portion of its newest Integrated Resource Plan on Wednesday with a webinar hosted by TVA power planners. A public hearing is set for next Tuesday at the Westin Hotel in downtown Chattanooga to outline the planning process and to gain public comments and ideas about how and what TVA should consider for its future over the next two decades.
"We strongly believe in a transparent and public-friendly process in developing our Integrated Resource Plan because it impacts every Tennessee Valley resident we serve," said Laura Campbell, vice president of enterprise planning, who estimates TVA will spend from $1.5 million to $2.7 million over three fiscal years to study, compile, publicize and get feedback on the long-range power plan.
"The diverse perspectives and opinions we gain make our plans stronger, so it's important that those who want to share their thoughts with us have the opportunity to do so," she said.
A preliminary draft of the new IRP is expected by early 2019 after a series of hearings, staff studies and advisory board meetings, and the TVA board is scheduled to vote on approving the newest Integrated Resource Plan by August 2019.
TVA anticipates the major issues to be addressed in the IRP study and the associated Environmental Impact Statement will include the cost and reliability of energy resources, the availability and use of renewable and distributed resources, the effect of energy efficiency programs, and the relationship of costs and the economy to all of these options.
The six goals for TVA's long-range power plan center on low cost, informed risk, environmental responsibility, reliability, diversity of power and flexibility to meet changing market conditions, Child said.
To gain greater public participation, TVA has established an IRP Working Group, a task force of TVA's distributors, industrial customers and academic, environmental and energy experts who will meet monthly to offer input on the evolving power plan. TVA also will consult with its Regional Energy Resource Council for help in the development of the IRP.
Contact Dave Flessner at [email protected] or at 757-6340.