Lack of Investment in Energy Efficiency and Rising Fixed Fees Increase Bills
Knoxville, Tenn. – The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) welcomes TVA’s recent pullback of a long parade of base rate increases, but TVA has not made a long term commitment to lower customers bills. In fact the opposite is true: Tennessee households pay the 12th highest energy bills in the nation. Energy bills are computed by multiplying the rate times consumption plus fixed fees. TVA’s abandonment of energy efficiency in conjunction with increasing fixed fees across the TVA territory are driving bills up for consumers and small businesses. For example, Knoxville residents have been victims of this trend as the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) has tripled its basic mandatory service charge, or fixed fee, since 2010.
Customers who are low-income or fixed-income struggle to pay their bills and face high energy burdens. TVA is choosing to leave energy savings on the table instead of investing in low-cost resources like energy efficiency. Investing in energy efficiency and therefore cutting energy waste is the cheapest, quickest and cleanest way to address energy burdens that disportionately impact low-income, fixed-income and minority communities. TVA is well below the regional average on energy efficiency investments and energy savings, yet their latest Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) or long-term resource plan calls for even lower investments in energy efficiency going forward. Energy efficiency is also key in tackling the challenge of a changing climate by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In lieu of attending TVA’s sham “public” listening session today, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) submitted a formal letter urging the TVA Board to send the utility’s twenty year plan back to the TVA staff to make key changes that would prioritize its most vulnerable customers. We support the bipartisan bill in the House (HR 881) calling for more transparency in how TVA makes their decisions and requiring open committee meetings, introduced by Representative Burchett (R-TN-2) and co-sponsored by Representatives Cohen (D-TN-9) and DesJarlais (R-TN-4). Forcing impacted parties to take additional time from work during the day to attend a separate meeting in order to address the TVA Board stifles meaningful public participation. TVA’s burdensome listening sessions are not a form of meaningful public interaction –– they are held during the work day, not live-streamed, and lead to no meaningful outcomes because decisions are made in advance at the committee level hidden from the public eye.
Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy stated: “While we welcome the lack of a rate base increase, we are concerned about the continued upward pressure on bills that negatively impact our most vulnerable neighbors. Customers don’t pay a rate, their energy consumption and fixed fees are key drivers of their total bill. TVA is misleading the public about what customers are really paying by trying to keep the focus only on rates while gutting energy efficiency programs. TVA continues to support regressive fixed fees, and by moving forward with this long-term resource plan that effectively abandons investment in energy efficiency TVA assures economic hardship for many in the Valley. This is Not Public Power we are requesting that TVA re-evaluate this IRP to reflect best practices in the utility industry and engage in meaningful public interaction with their end use customers.”
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Since 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has worked to promote responsible energy choices to ensure clean, safe and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org