Electricity demand in the Tennessee Valley is projected to grow at the slowest rate in TVA's 82-year history over the next two decades, negating the need for the federal utility to build new nuclear, coal or other major baseload power facilities until after 2030.
TVA final integrated resource planView
A new energy plan unveiled today for the next 20 years by TVA suggests that electricity demand in the Valley will grow at an annual rate of somewhere between 0.3 percent and 1.3 percent through 2032. That is only about a third of the projected electricity growth that TVA forecast in its last long-term power plan adopted in 2011 and less than 20 percent of the power growth rate TVA experienced through most of its history in the 1940s, through the 1970s.
Joe Hoagland, vice president of TVA stakeholder relations, said a combination of energy efficiency, slower economic growth and alternative distributed energy sources are trimming the growth in power demand across TVA's 7-state region.
Even though TVA plans to retire about half of the coal-fired generation it once employed, there are no plans to build any new coal power plants. After finishing the Unit 2 reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant later this year, TVA also has no plans to build or finish other full-scale nuclear reactors, Hoagland said. TVA might consider small modular reactors in Oak Ridge if the price proves attractive, but there will be no need to finish the incomplete Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant in Alabama, according to the new plan.
The power plan also suggests TVA might want a high-voltage, direct-current transmission of wind power from the windier states in the Midwest or Texas, such as the $2 billion plans for a 700-mile DC line by Clean Line Energy LLC. But TVA doesn't anticipate needing such power until the late 2020s or early 2030s — a decade later than what developers of Clean Line Energy wanted.
With natural gas prices expected to remain at attractive levels and solar power generation costs coming down, TVA will turn more to gas-fired generation and renewable sources for additional power needs. The growth in power also will be restricted by further energy efficiency promotion, which TVA calculates is still cheaper and better for consumers than building new, and usually more expensive, power generation.
TVA's Integrated Resource Plan is expected to be adopted by the TVA board in August. The plan provides a road map for power planning through 2033, although different scenarios and events could shape TVA's power decisions.
"The recommendations of the IRP meet the dual objectives of ensuring flexibility in our energy sources while providing guidance on least-cost power options," Hoagland said. "The plan also reinforces the importance that TVA power remains reliable, affordable and sustainable."