FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 28, 2023
Dan Radmacher, Media Specialist, (540) 798-6683, email@example.com
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — In a disappointing move, the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority last week approved a 4.5% increase to its base power rate. This rate hike will go into effect in just a few weeks and will lead to higher electricity bills throughout the region.
Despite the federal utility’s efforts to downplay the increase, the rate hike will have a significant negative impact on families across the Tennessee Valley, especially those already struggling to keep their lights on. Some communities in TVA’s footprint already face some of the highest energy burdens in the country. For example, families in the Binghampton neighborhood of Memphis spend, on average, 27 percent of their income on their power bills.
Along with the rate increase, the board also eliminated the wholesale rate credits that distribution utilities were receiving during the pandemic.
While it is raising power rates on its customers, TVA is plowing ahead with plans to spend more than $5 billion on dirty and expensive gas plants and pipelines. In fact, at the same meeting where it approved the rate hike, TVA approved a budget that will allow the utility to spend 11 times more on gas infrastructure in the next fiscal year when compared to solar and battery storage. This multi-billion-dollar gas buildout, which amounts to one of the largest fossil fuel buildouts in the country, is a driver of this rate hike.
This rate increase shows that TVA is in no position to leave money on the table, but that’s exactly what it has proposed to do by investing in more dirty, expensive gas plants instead of using federal incentives to build a greener, leaner TVA.
“At the same time TVA is raising rates for its customers, it is proposing to spend millions on a gas plant and pipeline in Cheatham County that has received significant pushback from neighbors, community members, and local leaders”, said Tracy O’Neill of Cheatham County, Tenn. “We are going to keep fighting until we have confirmation that TVA doesn’t plan to move forward with this toxic and expensive plant.
“Board members talked about ‘courageous innovation’ but TVA is ignoring a prime opportunity to get innovative in Cheatham County,” said William Halsey of Cheatham County. “Solar could be applied to a diverse rural environment while the community is organized, engaged and fully open to consider alternative forms of energy.”
“Energy bills are already unaffordable for millions of people, and TVA just made life-saving power more inaccessible,” said Gaby Sarri-Tobar, energy justice campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “As another deadly heat wave hits the Valley, it’s outrageous that our country’s largest public power provider would raise rates. TVA could be lowering people’s bills by prioritizing energy efficiency, ending its fossil fuel obsession and transitioning to 100% renewable energy.”
“The distance between TVA’s stated goals and the actions of the board last week is absolutely staggering,” said Bri Knisley, Director of Public Power Campaigns at Appalachian Voices. “How can you approve a budget proposal that calls for keeping base rates stable through fiscal year 2030, and in the same meeting, pass a 4.5% rate increase? Even worse, the board also approved a plan to invest 11 times more money into gas infrastructure when compared to solar and storage. Gas is incredibly cost-volatile and led to major electricity bill increases in the Valley in 2022 and rolling blackouts last winter. With this budget approval, our local power companies and the ratepayers they serve are in for a world of hurt.”
“TVA’s reckless fossil fuel spending spree comes with a price, and families across the Tennessee Valley are already being forced to foot the bill,” SELC Senior Attorney Amanda Garcia said. “If TVA continues to double down on dirty fossil fuels, its customers will continue to be burdened with higher monthly power bills, added fuel cost fees, and even more rate increases. The federal utility must change course and diversify its energy sources with solar power and battery storage instead of more gas.”