Many remain critical of TVA’s new long-term energy plan. Flat demand and a continued shift away from baseload generation are the chief reasons for TVA to update its integrated resource plan, but not everyone is convinced that will mean more access to renewable energy.
TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said there are basic structural reasons why TVA looks at solar energy negatively. The TVA Act binds the utility to operate using the least-cost methods, and because TVA is a federal entity, it cannot receive any of the tax credits for installing solar.
But Hopson notes another requirement: technological innovation. That's where solar, particularly distributed solar, could come into play in the IRP, but it will be a while before that is decided.
Putting together that long-term energy plan is a protracted process that will last until next year. Even then, Hopson cautions that it's more of a road map to show the direction TVA should be moving, not one that will pick exact types of generation.
He chalks up the criticism of TVA's solar programs to the utility phasing out the lucrative incentives that it once offered. The utility stepped down and then stopped the incentives as the cost of solar technology started to fall.
"We're not incentivizing it in the same way, frankly because there is not a need to," he told E&E News.
Renewable advocates painted a different picture yesterday. They considered the solar programs at the utility, commercial and, residential levels to be "broken."
Meanwhile the Trump administration's reorganization plan again called for selling TVA's transmission assets as well as those for the Southwest Power Administration, Western Area Administration and Bonneville Power Administration.
Trump first called for the selling of these power transmission assets in this year's budget.
Reducing or eliminating the federal government's role in transmission infrastructure would save $9.5 billion over 10 years, the administration said yesterday.
Sen. Lamar Alexander argued against the administration's plans yesterday.
"This looney idea of selling TVA and TVA's transmission lines seems to keep popping up regardless of who is president, and each of those proposals have all been soundly rejected by Congress," stated Lamar.