Clean Energy Groups Respond to TVA’s Draft Integrated Resource Plan
Coalition Emphasizes Rapidly Falling Price of Clean Energy, Affordability of Energy Efficiency
Knoxville, TN – Today, the Tennessee Valley Authority released its draft 2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) detailing how the federal utility will generate electricity in the future. The draft plan reflects TVA’s considerable commitment to resource planning and public engagement. It also takes significant steps in the right direction, such as confirming that TVA can readily reduce emissions to facilitate state compliance with EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. However, there are still serious concerns about the development of clean energy resources that must be addressed before the Board of Directors approves a final plan in August.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Sierra Club, and Southern Environmental Law Center will fully review the draft plan and will prepare technical comments to submit to TVA staff by the end of April. As members of TVA’s IRP Working Group, these clean energy groups were joined by energy industry experts to supply TVA with established data on energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, such as wind and solar during the plan’s drafting process. This information demonstrated why these clean energy resources are the most affordable and prudent choices for generating electricity in the Tennessee Valley.
Although TVA has taken an important step by approaching energy efficiency as an energy resource, the draft plan ultimately represents a missed opportunity to help TVA customers save energy, lower electricity bills, and foster a robust, clean energy economy in the Valley. TVA promised to become a regional leader in energy efficiency in its 2011 IRP – yet TVA has repeatedly cut its energy efficiency budget, and the draft plan would slash the efficiency goals approved by the Board of Directors in 2011.
TVA is beginning to embrace the market trends driving solar power forward in the Southeast, but when it comes to wind power the draft plan fails to appropriately evaluate optimal costs and performance. Instead, it calls for little to no planning for wind development over the next decade or more despite an outlook demonstrating cheap, plentiful, and reliable wind resources from both inside and outside the region.
“Many utilities are already finding that by combining wind, solar, and energy efficiency, they can replace much of the need for new natural gas power plants and significantly reduce fuel costs,” said John D. Wilson, Research Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “TVA’s Draft 2015 IRP does not meet the standard of taking all cost-effective steps to help families and businesses cut energy bills.”
“Energy efficiency is the cheapest and most reliable way of tackling the energy challenges of the coming decades, but TVA’s approach does not yet fully recognize the low-cost opportunity it offers customers. We’ll continue to productively engage TVA on the right choices for our energy future, because increasingly cheap wind power, solar energy, and energy efficiency investments beat the dirty fuels of the past on public health and a flexible, reliable energy policy every time,” said Jonathan Levenshus, Tennessee Representative of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.
According to Amanda Garcia, Staff Attorney at Southern Environmental Law Center, “The draft plan underestimates TVA’s capacity to ramp up energy efficiency programs quickly and overestimates their costs over the long term. We are hopeful that additional analysis by TVA, together with input from stakeholders and the public, will result in a final plan that captures the full potential of energy efficiency as a cost-saving, emission-free alternative resource.”
The clean energy groups are encouraging the public and other interested parties to attend meetings hosted by TVA in cities across the Tennessee Valley over the next two months to learn more about the IRP and to share their views on the future direction of energy policy in the region.