Should FERC order TVA to provide open access transmission, LPCs could seek more affordable and cleaner sources of electricity beyond TVA
Knoxville, Tenn. – Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), represented by Earthjustice, filed comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today outlining how its decision in a pending case could impact clean energy, affordability, and climate mitigation in the Tennessee Valley.
On January 11, 2021, four Local Power Company (LPC) customers of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) petitioned FERC to require TVA to provide open access, at a reasonable rate, to its transmission system for the LPCs to receive power from a supplier other than TVA. The four LPCs had attempted to negotiate for use of TVA’s transmission system for this purpose, and TVA denied that access at any cost. TVA is required to provide open access transmission service under 2005 amendments to the Federal Power Act.
Dr. Stephen A. Smith, SACE’s Executive Director, said, “TVA’s unregulated monopoly has enabled the corporation to prioritize large business and industrial customers over the families and small businesses across the Tennessee Valley and slow-walk a transition to efficient low-cost clean energy. TVA continues to run some of the oldest coal power plants in the country while generating far less solar than other utilities in the Southeast. Local power companies are beginning to understand they can get lower rates and greater flexibility outside of TVA, and until they are permitted to do so, captive TVA customers’ bills will continue to rise. With unaffordable energy burdens in both rural and metropolitan areas across Tennessee Valley Authority’s service territory, many customers are looking for options to lower costs, increase energy efficiency, and improve the climate with clean energy investments.”
Maggie Shober, Director of Utility Reform at SACE, added, “Clean energy sources like solar and energy efficiency are low-cost. SACE has intervened in this case because TVA is leveraging its monopoly power to stifle the growth of clean energy and energy efficiency while foisting the exorbitant costs of its Eisenhower-era coal fleet on captive ratepayers. A decision from FERC ordering TVA to provide open access transmission would allow the LPCs to seek more affordable sources of electricity beyond TVA, and encourage TVA to clean up its act.”
TVA is expected to file comments with FERC today, February 22, and intervenors as well as the petitioners can file motions to answer. FERC is then free to take a number of actions, including holding a hearing or determining a ruling in the case. Regardless of the outcome, SACE and Earthjustice remain committed to continuing the fight for clean and affordable energy for residents of the Tennessee Valley.