Climate Champion Sen. Whitehouse Discusses Climate Change with TN Advocates

Last weekend, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) visited SACE’s Knoxville office to sit down with clean energy and environmental advocates from Tennessee to discuss work done to combat climate change in the state. Representatives from SACE, Sierra Club, Tennessee Interfaith Power and Light, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, Alliance to Save Energy and TenneSEIA were in the room as Sen. Whitehouse was briefed on TN’s air quality, past and future climate change impacts in the state and the amount of solar, wind and energy efficiency resources used by TN residents.

Supreme Court Mercury Decision Not a Real Game Changer

In a close 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States sent the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Mercury Air Toxics Standard (MATS) rule back to a lower court for review. Justice Scalia wrote the majority opinion, which hinged on an interpretation of administrative law requirements and did not overturn EPA’s ability to regulate hazardous air pollutants from power plants.

While the Court did not overturn EPA’s analysis and conclusion that public health benefits of the MATS rule vastly outweigh the costs to the coal and oil industry, it did find that EPA should have first considered whether it was appropriate to regulate power plants under the Clean Air Act’s hazardous air pollution safeguards.

Google Announces New Data Center – Inside A Coal Plant!

Recently, Google announced its plans to open its 14th data center – this new one in Northern Alabama. The internet giant will be building the data center inside the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA’s) Widows Creek coal plant, which is set to retire . Google will begin construction in 2016 and is working with TVA to ensure that the data center is powered by renewable energy resources. The data center will take advantage of the existing transmission lines at the plant to bring in renewable energy.

TVA Advisory Board Meeting Gives Preview of Final 2015 IRP

Today, the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Regional Energy Resource Council (RERC) ended two days of meetings in which they were given a preview of the recommendations in TVA’s forthcoming 2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). SACE staff have played an integral part in both the 2011 and 2015 IRP planning process, serving on each of the various [...]

Knoxville Receives $7.12 Million from TVA for Lower-Income Energy Efficiency Program

Thanks to collaborative community efforts and new funding from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), hundreds of lower-income residents in Knoxville will soon have much more affordable utility bills. TVA recently announced the first round award winners in the Extreme Energy Makeovers project, part of TVA’s Smart Communities program. Knoxville received $7.12 million – after applying [...]

Cutting Carbon Pollution Won’t Make the Sky Fall

National experts and Southeastern utilities agree that it is practical to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, while maintaining reliability of the electric grid. In an April 2015 report by three national experts on electric reliability, the authors found that while there will be “significant changes to the overall mix of resources under the [EPA's Clean [...]

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.

A Bright, Sunny Forecast for the Tennessee Valley

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is farsighted, not shortsighted, when it comes to its efforts to evaluate and plan for solar power in its future. The 2015 Draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) provides the clearest, sharpest look ever by a Southeastern utility at solar energy as a resource – and not a threat – to this amazing, clean energy opportunity. [...]

Is TVA Undervaluing Wind Energy?

TVA recently released its Draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). An IRP is a planning exercise to determine utility power plant needs 20 years into the future. The exercise depends on inputs (such as cost and performance data for various power plant types, including wind farms) to develop outputs and recommendations. Some of TVA’s most important inputs for wind power are a bit opaque – especially cost and performance data. But based on the IRP outputs, it appears that the inputs for wind energy are stuck in TVA’s wind energy glory days and are about a decade out of date.

Massive Wind Power Opportunities for Tennessee

Tennessee is home to the Southeast’s first wind farm, the Buffalo Mountain wind project. This wind farm was installed nearly a decade ago and is still meeting performance goals and expectations. Several other wind farms have been proposed in Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Valley Authority is currently purchasing over 1,500 megawatts of wind power from the upper-Plains states. High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission projects, like the Plains and Eastern project, would inject thousands of megawatts of new high quality, low cost wind power for the Volunteer State.