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TVA opens pathway for local power companies to produce their own solar, CHP generation

By District Energy posted 06-25-2020 17:00


Power Engineering


The Tennessee Valley Authority has green-lighted a first-ever plan allowing the local distribution utilities within its service territory to develop some of their power generation, including renewable energy resources.

The TVA announced that an environmental assessment found no significant impact in the shift allowing local power companies (LPCs) to generate the portion of their own load. These potential, localized resources could include utility-scale solar, combined heat and power (CHP) and distributed energy.

TVA historically has produced all of the electricity—mainly hydro, nuclear and some coal—that was then transmitted and distributed to local power companies. The new agreement would allow the LPCs to reduce the amount they buy from TVA by producing their own generation up to five percent of average energy needs.

“This is very positive for our community, and we see a need for local generation right now,” said Jeff Dykes, CEO of BrightRidge, which serves the Johnson City, Tenn. region. “Customers demand additional solar power, and now we can have local solutions in place to quickly improve the competitiveness of our region by proactively meeting those demands.” 

Some 140 of 154 LPCs within the TVA territory are entered into 20-year long-term partnership agreements with the federal power authority. The final Environmental Assessment presents a revised preferred alternative that allows for 2.5 times more solar than was defined in the draft Environmental Assessment, which was open for public comment this spring.

“Up to 300 MW of flexible generation from solar, combined heat and power, and other applicable technologies has been available to LPCs under the FRP,” reads one of TVA’s impact statements. “An expanded option could match the 800 to 2,000 MW of flexible generation considered under the Flexibility Proposal.”

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