Southern Environmental Law Center’s Statement in Response to TVA’s Retirement of the Bull Run and Paradise Fossil Plants

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In response to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) announcement today that it will be retiring the Bull Run and Paradise Fossil Plants, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) released the following statement.

“We see this as a step in the right direction for TVA,” said Amanda Garcia, senior attorney in SELC’s Tennessee office. “For too long, people who live and work in the Valley have borne the health, environmental and financial burdens of TVA’s over-reliance on coal. By shuttering these coal plants that no longer make economic sense, TVA frees up resources to invest in more renewable resources like solar, which can provide our communities with local jobs and cheaper, cleaner energy. As TVA turns to developing its long term plans, it must adapt by offering a range of options for residential, commercial and industrial customers who want better access to renewable energy. TVA should also use this retirement phase as a time to tackle the toxic legacy of storing coal ash in unlined pits at Bull Run and Paradise that have leaked into nearby waters for decades.” 

Unfortunately, at today's board meeting, TVA adopted a number of changes to its renewables programs that appear poised to limit customer choice and designed to maintain and extend monopoly control over solar in the Valley. First, the TVA board voted to discontinue its existing rooftop solar program at the end of 2019 that pays customers for energy generated by their systems without adopting an immediate replacement program. Second, the Board adopted demonstration projects for mid-scale and utility-scale access to solar. The mid-scale project appears designed to allow local power companies to offer products that would compete with behind-the-meter commercial solar. The utility-scale project would allow local power companies to aggregate large customer demand and work with TVA to invest in utility-scale renewables projects, similar to TVA's deals with Google and Facebook. The financial terms of these projects were not disclosed.

"TVA continues its pattern of double-talk with these changes to its renewables programs, telling the public that  'TVA must adapt,' while at the same time shutting down options for customer choice, especially for the little guy," said Amanda Garcia, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. "The devil is in the details, of which few were presented, but none of these changes appear to foster real energy choice in our local communities."

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