Power demand may slow, requiring more flexibility for TVA

Power demand may slow, requiring more flexibility for TVA

Long range power plan takes shape

September 10th, 2018 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

The Tennessee Valley Authority needs to have more flexibility as America's biggest government utility adapts to a changing power market with a less certain future, according to the architects of a new 20-year strategic plan.

Unlike previous long-term power plans which differed only in how much electricity demand would rise, TVA's new integrated resource plan taking shape by power planners foresees a possible decline in power use in the Tennessee Valley. Although the demand for TVA-generated power once grew by more than 7 percent a year, electricity demand in the Valley appears to have peaked nearly a decade ago and TVA President Bill Johnson said he expects only flat to declining demand in the future.

But electric-powered vehicles and more economic growth could still push up future power demand, especially during summertime and winter peaks.

Hunter Hydas, project manger for the Integrated Resource Plan, said the key to success for TVA in the future will be flexibility in its power portfolio and response capabilities as more consumers generate their own electricity from rooftop solar and wind turbines while still relying upon TVA for power when the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shun.

"In the last integrated resource plan (released in 2015), all scenarios had increasing energy utilization across the 20-year planning horizon," Hydas said Monday during a public, online update of TVA's long-range plan. "For the 2019 plan, we have designed a much wider band of potential futures for energy escalation or de-escalation."

TVA, which has shut down more than half of the 59 coal-fired generation units it once operated, is looking at closing the last remaining unit at the Paradise Fossil Plant in Kentucky and the single-unit Bull Run Fossil plant near Oak Ridge.

Within the next 20 years, other aging TVA coal plants at Kingston, Shawnee and Gallatin could enter the end of their useful lives and the extended license for the reactors at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant will expire and TVA must decide whether to ask for another extension of its oldest nuclear plant or shut down the reactors. Within the next five to 10 years, other long-term power purchase agreement with other energy producers also will end and will have to be either extended, renegotiated or terminated.

TVA is trying to develop its 20-year plan for the future — along with the required Environmental Impact Statement for its future plans — for public release in February. Following pubic hearings and comments, TVA directors will vote on the long-range power plan next August when it takes up the 2020 fiscal budget.

The goals of the new long-range plan include low cost energy, limited risk, environmental responsibility, delivering reliable power and diversity of power supply.

As in the 2015 long-range plan, TVA is collaborating with its IRP Working Group and the Regional Energy Resource Council (RERC) to help develop and shape the new power plan.

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