Is TVA’s New Integrated Resource Plan a Wise Path Forward?

In reflecting on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) 2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) in a recent blog, our research director pointed out that “TVA’s 20-year plan looks at the ground we stand on, sketches some ideas for tomorrow, but does not really scan future horizons.” So, what should TVA’s Board do to take this plan from sketches to concrete action?

Oh Say Can You See? Air Pollution and the Smoky Mountains

Back in 1990, average visibility in the Smoky Mountains was just 25 miles. Since then, reductions in air pollution have made it possible for visitors to see as far as 46 miles. In the absence of any air pollution, however, visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park would be able to see a whopping [...]

Final Clean Power Plan Safeguards Public Health and Spurs Clean Energy Growth

On Monday, President Obama announced the release of the finalized Clean Power Plan, our nation’s first regulations to limit carbon pollution from existing fossil-fueled power plants. The Clean Power Plan, as crafted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets achievable carbon pollution reduction goals for each state, based on the unique energy mix currently serving the power needs of each state.

This historic action will mean a huge boon to public health. Along with reducing climate-change causing carbon pollution, the Clean Power Plan will also reduce other harmful pollution from coal plants resulting in prevention of 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 non-fatal heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks in children and 300,000 missed workdays and schooldays due to illness.

New nuclear reactor designs and concepts are expensive, challenging – New GAO report

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new technology assessment report yesterday, “Nuclear Reactors: Status and challenges in development and deployment of new commercial concepts.” But the results of the study were anything but new. The GAO’s findings confirmed that new nuclear reactor technologies, such as small modular reactors (SMRs), and other new reactor [...]

First in Flight North Carolina Gets First Wind Farm

While the Amazon Wind Farm US East isn’t the first wind farm in the South (as many, many news reports incorrectly stated), it certainly is the largest. In 2004, the wind development company Invenergy constructed the Buffalo Mountain wind farm near Oliver Springs, Tennessee. The Tennessee Valley Authority has purchased power from the Buffalo Mountain wind farm for over a decade. The Buffalo Mountain wind farm is made up of 13 wind turbines with a total capacity of 27 megawatts; meanwhile, the new Amazon Wind Farm US East will contain 102 wind turbines with a total capacity of 208 megawatts, with an option to add another 50 turbines (100 megawatts).

New EmPower TN initiative set to cut state utility bills by an estimated 28% with energy efficiency and renewable energy

Tennessee lawmakers have recently demonstrated that investing in clean energy is not a partisan issue, so much as it’s just plain common sense. In the majority-Republican General Assembly, the state budget was approved with tens of millions of dollars for new investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, predicted to yield $1 billion in savings [...]

Solar Farm Will Generate Energy and Millions In Economic Benefits to Northern Alabama

A recent study by the University of Alabama Center for Business and Economic Research found that a proposed 80 MW solar farm, to be located in Lauderdale County, Alabama, could create millions of dollars in economic benefits to the area. The solar farm is being developed on a 640-acre tract of land by NextEra Energy Inc. and will sell the power to the Tennessee Valley Authority under a 20-year contract approved by the TVA Board in February 2015.

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 Located at Old Coal Plant Site!

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.