Fuel prices raise price of gas, but TVA power gets cheaper next month

Fuel prices raise price of gas, but TVA power gets cheaper next month

April 28th, 2018 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Despite a jump in the price of gasoline to power your car, fuel costs for heating and cooling your home is actually going down a bit next month.

The Tennessee Valley Authority is cutting its monthly fuel cost adjustment in May, lowering the typical Chattanooga electric bill by 99 cents from the current month's average bill.

Despite a 2 percent rise over the past year in base wholesale rates to the local power companies that distribute TVA-generated power, the fuel cost portion of electricity rates next month will be 3.4 percent less than a year ago.

TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said milder weather and greater production from TVA's cheapest fuel cost sources — hydroelectricity from its 29 power- generating dams and nuclear power from its seven operating reactors — helped lower fuel costs.

"Our fuel and purchased power cost is among the lowest in the Southeast, and has declined yearly since 2012," Brooks said. "Changes in the generation mix have contributed favorably to this trend."

With TVA's decrease in their fuel cost adjustment, the average residential bill power for a typical Chattanooga household that uses 1,295 kilowatt hours of electricity, will pay $140.70 next month, according to EPB.

TVA's biggest industrial customers that are directly served by the federal utility praised the cost savings Friday.

"TVIC (the Tennessee Valley Industrial Committee) welcomes the continued decreases in TVA's fuel costs related to both the stable fossil fuel costs and the improved availability of hydro generation and nuclear generation," TVIC spokesman Rob Hoskins said. "Given the contribution of fuel costs to TVA's total rates, it is important that TVA manages their fuel to keep electricity in the Valley competitive and affordable."

For most consumers, the savings in electricity will be more than offset by higher prices for gasoline at the pump, however.

Chattanooga motorists are paying the highest prices at the pump since last year's hurricanes pushed up gas prices last September and rising oil prices this year are expected to cause more pain at the pump in coming weeks.

The average retail price of gasoline in Chattanooga has risen 17.1 cents per gallon in the past month and are up 34.5 cents per gallon in the past year to an average of $2.46 per gallon, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 170 gas outlets in Chattanooga.

"The road head at the pump looks quite ominous," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "All signs point to some additional upward movement before prices peak and perhaps drop slightly around Memorial Day into the month of June — all certainly very contingent and subject to any changes from OPEC."

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