Small businesses blast TVA's proposed grid access fee

Board to vote on rate realignment Thursday

Chris Calhoun, owner of The Tap House and The Brew Market, talks against a proposed grid access fee in front of TVA's power headquarters in Chattanooga along with Jon Nessle, left, the arborist and landscape coach, and Lenda Sherrell, right, the state director for the Tennessee Small Business Alliance

The Tennessee Valley Authority is proposing to add a grid access fee on its wholesale power rates for the first time in a move TVA says will make power bills more stable and better reflect actual expenses without raising overall rates.

But a coalition of small businesses Tuesday objected to the proposed rate restructuring, claiming it unfairly rewards big industrial users at the expense of small businesses and low-energy individual power users.

"This proposal from TVA is a bad deal across the board, continuing preferential treatment for a handful of large industrial customers, while passing the cost along to Tennessee families and small businesses," Lenda Sherrell, state director of the Tennessee Small Business Alliance, said during a news conference Tuesday in front of TVA's power headquarters in Chattanooga.

Over the past five years, TVA rates have declined by an average 2 percent and electric rates in TVA's seven-state region are below those in 70 percent of the country.