Watts Bar Nuclear Plant

The Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Rhea County, Tenn., contributes to Tennessee Valley Authority’s nuclear generation.

The Tennessee Valley Authority is hosting a public meeting Tuesday to discuss its long-term plan to provide power to 10 million people.

The 2019 Integrated Resource Plan is the third draft of its kind. In 2011, the plan reviewed how to diversify the utility’s energy mix. In 2015, the plan targeted grid modernization and energy efficiency.

The new draft proposes timelines to increase diversification and grid modernization with various scenarios, such as an economic downturn, policy pushes for decarbonization and a Tennessee Valley population surge.

“It’s basically a comprehensive study that provides direction on how we plan to meet our future electricity demand needs going forward,” said Josh Clendenen, public relations consultant for TVA.

On Tuesday, utility staff will discuss the plan, answer questions and break for one-on-one conversations. The meeting is scheduled for 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Knicely Conference Center, 2355 Nashville Road.

It’s an opportunity to learn the “impact and benefit of a flexible system,” as well as about measures to increase renewable capacity, Clendenen said.

As the largest public power corporation in the U.S., its energy mix is impactful.

In fiscal 2018, TVA captured power from about 40 percent nuclear, 26 percent coal, 20 percent natural gas, 10 percent hydro, 3 percent wind and solar, and 1 percent other.

By fiscal 2027, TVA wants to boost wind and solar to 5 percent of its total generation.

“We’re looking at carbon reduction,” Clendenen said. “We’re over 50 percent carbon-free.”

TVA will continue to use and upgrade carbon-free power sources such as nuclear and hydroelectric power. But boosts to carbon-free power will likely be accomplished through the installation of new solar panels, according to Clendenen.

Kentucky produces the fifth-highest amount of coal in the nation and the sixth-highest amount of hydroelectric power. The state, which has the 26th-largest population, ranks 12th in carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Solar and wind energy production is barely on the state map.

Kentucky, as well as other TVA-serviced states – Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia – do not have renewable portfolio standards, which require utilities to power electricity with a specific percentage of renewable energy. As of 2019, 29 states have set standards and eight states have set voluntary renewable energy goals, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In the past year, New Mexico and California passed laws requiring 100 percent carbon-free energy across the state by 2045. Earlier this month, legislators in Nevada – which currently gets about a quarter of its electricity from renewable energy – introduced a similar bill.

For years, scientists have urged the transition to 100 percent clean energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow climate change. This year, that idea gained a little political steam with the introduction by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., of the proposed Green New Deal, which calls for 100 percent clean energy within 10 years – an ambition that, while technically possible, is politically challenging.

“If something like that would pass, we’d have to look at how that would affect the Tennessee Valley Act,” Clendenen said. “The whole purpose of TVA is to better life in the valley,” with a goal of providing low-cost power.

Tuesday, residents can learn more about how TVA plans to get that power.

To view the full draft, visit tva.com/Environment/Environmental- Stewardship/Integrated-Resource-Plan.

– Follow reporter Caroline Eggers on Twitter @eggersdailynews or visit bgdailynews.com.

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