Tennessee will soon become the No. 1 state for electric vehicle production in a power shift that could nearly double electricity demand in the Tennessee Valley over the next three decades, the head of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
In a speech to the Chattanooga Rotary Club, TVA CEO Jeff Lyash said TVA’s reliable, low-cost electricity has helped spur automakers to plan or begin production of battery-powered vehicles in Chattanooga by Volkswagen, in Smyrna by Nissan, in Spring Hill by General Motors. and, over the next three years, in Stanton just outside Memphis by Ford Motor Co. Collectively, automakers and affiliated battery factories are investing more than $10 billion in the voluntary state to replace cars and gasoline trucks by electric vehicles.
Lyash said the shift to electric vehicles, combined with increased electrification of home heating and industrial machinery to limit the burning of carbon-producing fossil fuels, is expected to nearly double electricity demand by 2050 in the service region. to seven VAT States.
Such growth would reverse the stagnation in electricity demand that TVA has experienced over the past decade following years of growth in electricity demand for most of TVA’s 89-year history of 7% per year. or more. Lyash said that just as utility officials overestimated electricity growth a generation ago once energy efficiency measures reduced demand, he said it was important that officials utilities today are not unaware of the prospect of renewed demand for electricity due to the abandonment of other forms of energy.
“If we electrify the economy in transportation and other areas to decarbonize energy, we will likely double the amount of electricity we need in this region for the economy by 2050,” Lyash said. to Chattanooga Rotarians. “If we succeed in this conversion, it will represent a tremendous opportunity for economic development for this region of the country.”
Lyash said TVA helped attract $8.8 billion in investment and nearly 81,000 jobs in fiscal 2021 and the utility could surpass that total this year. Lyash said VAT residential electricity rates are lower than 80% of other US utilities and VAT industrial rates are lower than 95% of the rest of the country. More importantly, Lyash said TVA’s power delivery has maintained 99.999% reliability for each of the past 20 years – one of the highest reliability rates of any utility in the country with the third-lowest carbon emissions of any US utility.
TVA has reduced its carbon emissions by more than 57% since 2005 and is on track to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% below 2005 levels by 2035 when TVA plans to close the last of 59 coal-fired power plants which she used to operate.
Environmental groups are urging TVA to do more to limit its carbon emissions to meet President Joe Biden’s goal of having a carbon-free electric grid by 2035. Lyash said that probably wouldn’t be possible without a new nuclear power generation or widespread distributed power generation conservation due to the shift towards electric power in transportation and industry. Maintaining reliable electric service when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing to power solar and wind generation will likely also require some natural gas production, Lyash said.
Lyash said growth in TVA’s electricity sales could be stunted if Memphis Light, Gas and Water, the largest of 153 local power companies that distribute TVA’s electricity, replaces TVA as the wholesale supplier. . Memphis Light, Gas and Water has solicited proposals from power producers after earlier studies indicated that Memphis could buy cheaper electricity from other producers rather than TVA and save between 120 and 450 million dollars per year.
Lyash said that if Memphis Light, Gas and Water considers all the benefits of TVA service, including power reliability, recreation and economic development assistance, “I think we remain the best choice for Memphis.” .
But the chairman of TVA said local power companies are free to choose whether or not to stay with TVA, provided they give the required contract notice. Under its current contract with TVA, Memphis Light, Gas and Water would have to give TVA five years’ notice of its intention to leave TVA’s fold.