published Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Large drop in power demand has TVA rethinking future power plans

TO PARTICIPATE

• Public meetings to scope out what TVA should consider in its next integrated resource plan are scheduled Thursday night from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the TVA headquarters in Knoxville, 400 West Smmit Hill Drive, and on Wednesday, Nov. 6, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. CST, at MLGW University, 4949 Raleigh-LaGrange Road, in Memphis. The public car participate in these scoping meetings through simultaneous webinars, which can be accessed at http:www.tva.gov/irp.

• Written comments can be submitted onlin at ww.tva.gov/irp and via email at IRP@tva.gov or can be mailed to Charles P. Nicholson, Tennessee Valley Authority, 400 West Summit Hill Drive, WT 11D, Knoxville, TN 37902.

•The Regional Energy Resource Council will hold its inaugural meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the TVA Central In-Process Training Center, 29199 U.S. Highway 27, in Hollywood, Ala. The council has scheduled a 30-minute listening session at 1:30 p.m. CDT to hear opinions from the public.

  • photo
    In this file photograph, transportation operator Juan Rosario operates power lines from a computer station in the TVA System Operations Center at TVA headquarters in Chattanooga.
    Photo by Doug Strickland.
    enlarge photo

Faced with the biggest drop in power demand in is 80-year history, the Tennessee Valley Authority is rethinking its future power plans.

Only two years after completing its previous 20-year plan, TVA is beginning a reassessment of its long-range plans this week with the first public hearings on how much and from what source TVA should generate and distribute its electricity. Although the new integrated resource plan is only advisory, it should help the TVA board decide how many of its aging coal plants will be shut down, how much energy conservation will be pushed and what, if any, new nuclear power plants, wind mills or solar farms will be built.

"We've seen a significant reduction in our load growth," Joe Hoagland, TVA's senior vice president of policy and oversight, said Monday. "Five or six years ago, we were forecasting load annual load growth of 3 or 4 percent a year, but power demand ended up falling during the recession and not bouncing back as it has coming out of previous recessions. Our long-range forecasts are now under 1 percent a year load growth."

TVA previously expected to need an extra coal or natural gas unit to be added every year or a nuclear reactor every two or three years.

"Now we're at a point where we have excess generation in terms of where we are today," Hoagland said. "We don't anticipate growing back to the load growths we saw prior to the recession until sometime in the middle of the next decade."

TVA's summertime power peak this year was just above 27,000 megawatts, far below the peak demand of 33,499 megawatts set in the summer of 2007.

TVA is still in the process of idling another 14 coal-fired units, beyond the four already shutdown, to comply with a pollution control agreement reached two years ago with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and environmental groups that sued TVA. But TVA will offset much of that load drop with the expected completion in 2015 of another 1,200 megawatts of generating capacity at the Unit 2 reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant.

TVA also is studying the option of finishing its incomplete Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant in Hollywood, Ala., and building a new type of smaller modular reactor in Oak Ridge. The power study plan is likely to recommend which, if either, of the nuclear options should be pursued in the next decade.

TVA's future power plans are being shaped with the guidance of two outside panels formed to help give TVA input from customers, distributors, environmentalists and community groups.

On Wednesday, a new Regional Energy Resource Council will hold its inaugural meeting at the TVA Central In-Process Training Center in Hollywood. The all-day meeting, which starts at 8:30 a.m. CDT, is being chaired by Dus Rogers of the Jackson County Economic Development Authority in Alabama and will advise TVA on broad energy issues, Hoagland said.

Another citizens panel, the Integrated Resource Plan working group, will begin meeting in November and help steer the 20-year power plan.

"The expectation is that we would have a plan adopted by the TVA board sometime in the spring of 2015," Hoagland said.

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

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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