Clean Line: A TVA Failure of Clean Energy and Environmental Leadership

Thee Tennessee Valley Authority is abdicating its role as a utility leader and its customers will be left holding the bag. In its biggest blow to renewable energy development, TVA has effectively killed the Plains and Eastern Clean Line high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission project.

Clearing the Air: Lamar Alexander, You’re Wrong About Wind Power

Sen. Alexander says that wind power is expensive. However, his information is outdated. With its considerable wind energy resources, Oklahoma had the lowest electricity prices in the country last year. Tennessee ranked #28. Analysis by Leidos Electrical shows that Plains and Eastern Clean Line project could more than likely reduce electric rates in the Tennessee Valley, and beyond. In November 2016, Lazard Associates published their annual Levelized Cost of Energy analysis showing that the lowest cost wind power resources reach $14/MWh (1.4 cents per kilowatt hour, kWh). A new report from Moody’s Investor Services reports wind power prices for $15/MWh (1.5 cents per kWh). In 2015, Georgia Power received wind power proposals with pricing of $15.77/MWh (1.577 cents per kWh). As an already-operating wind project, the Balko Wind project in western Oklahoma sold wind power to the Public Service Company of Oklahoma for $15.80/MWh (1.58 cents per kWh). HVDC transmission charges may add an additional 2 cents per kWh. Additionally, TVA can earn revenue by using their existing transmission system to “wheel” low-cost wind power to power-hungry neighbors.

Are Wind Farms Bad for Birds?

Overall, wind energy does not cause population level threats to birds and accounts for an extremely small percentage of unnatural avian mortality. A study in Energy Policy, found that fossil-fueled power plants, on a per unit of energy basis, are estimated to kill 17 times more birds than wind energy. So for every megawatt hour of electricity from a wind farm that replaces fossil fuels, seventeen times as many birds may be saved.

Department of Energy Green Lights Wind Power Transmission Line

The Plains and Eastern Clean Line will connect up to 4,000 megawatts of high quality wind energy resources from Oklahoma’s western panhandle to two electrical converter stations, one near northern Arkansas and another near Memphis, Tennessee. High voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission technology is not new; however, the Plains and Eastern Clean Line’s use of HVDC technology is unique in that it is designated for wind energy resources. HVDC technology can move more power over longer distances with less electrical loss than alternating current (AC) transmission routes; by doing so, HVDC transmission preserves land resources and maximizes clean energy availability.

WINDPOWER 2015 Presents Great Opportunities for the South

This blog is the third in a series from Southern Alliance for Clean Energy staff attending the American Wind Energy Association’s WINDPOWER 2015 Conference & Expo in Orlando, Florida.  There has been a lot of chatter at WINDPOWER this year about the Southeast’s potential for wind energy development with taller towers and longer blades. Yesterday at WINDPOWER, Energy […]

TVA 2015 IRP Public Comment Period Closes – What’s Next?

While the scope of TVA’s IRP process has been unprecedented in the Southeast, some significant gaps between the IRP planning intent and recent decisions by TVA’s management and Board of Directors still exist. Even as electric demand growth has slowed to only 1% per year, TVA’s capital budget for 2015 is a record $3.5 billion. While TVA claimed that these decisions (below) were consistent with the 2011 IRP, this capacity expansion policy exists concurrently with TVA’s failure to invest in energy efficiency and meet the modest energy efficiency commitments made in the 2011 TVA IRP.

Natural State Benefits from Wind Power

According to the American Wind Energy Association, Arkansas is also currently home to approximately 5 wind energy-related manufacturing facilities serving the domestic and international wind industry markets. In 2013, there were between 101 and 500 direct and indirect jobs provided by the wind industry in Arkansas. Developing land-based wind in the state could greatly add to local economic benefits and create more wind energy-related jobs.

TVA 2015 Draft IRP Views Clean Energy Through a Blurred Lens

If you’re like me, you are nostalgic for the days when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) brought innovation, increased economic development and low-cost energy to the Tennessee Valley.  TVA’s recently released draft 2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) outlines five alternate energy scenarios under which TVA could implement various resource planning strategies to meet both short- and […]

Wind Power Transmission Project Would Save Natural Resources

Compared to Clean Line’s one-time-use of 5,916 acres that can ultimately be returned to production, it’s clear the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project is a net benefit to natural resource conservation. The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project footprint is smaller than other forms of existing power generation, without the corresponding negative health effects.

Wind Power Transmission Project Could Create Tens of Thousands of Jobs

The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project would connect up to 4,000 megawatts of wind power capacity to the southeast. As part of the federal Department of Energy’s Environmental Impact Statement review, the DOE estimates the socioeconomic impacts of the proposed 720-mile high voltage direct current transmission project. Job creation estimates are included in the socioeconomic impacts portions of the EIS. Based on the EIS jobs estimates, lifetime job estimates may conservatively approach tens of thousands of jobs for the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project.