Category Archives: TVA

TVA giving bonuses averaging $10K per employee

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Valley Authority is rewarding employees for helping boost the utility’s income above $1 billion last year.

TVA directors voted Friday to allow the agency’s 10,900 employees to share in some of those record earnings, the Chattanooga Times Free Press ( reported. The directors approved payments of $113 million, or an average year-end bonus of $10,367 per employee.

The total amount of those payments to employees was down by 14 percent from a year ago, but most of that reflected a drop in TVA employment. TVA has offered early retirements and not filled vacant positions to cut most of the more than 2,000 jobs eliminated over the past couple of years.

Meanwhile, the board was even more generous to its top five executives.

TVA CEO Bill Johnson was paid a compensation package in fiscal 2015 worth more than $6.4 million.

Four other top TVA executives were each paid more than $2 million in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.
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Nickajack Lock reopened to public

JASPER, Tenn. (AP) — A lock along the Tennessee River is set to reopen to the public after it was closed off after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The Nickajack Lock on the Tennessee River in Marion County was fenced off and equipped with barricades, speed bumps and padlocked steel gates for 14 years. The lock remained open to boat traffic.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to open the lock to the public, The Times Free Press reported ( The locks at Guntersville and Wheeler dams in Alabama and the Pickwick Dam in Hardin County, Tennessee, are also being reopened.
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TVA rates increasing 1.5 percent to cover nuclear plant costs

TVA directors on Friday adopted a $10.7 billion spending plan for fiscal 2016 that will raise electricity rates by 1.5 percent, or about $1.50 per month on the average residential bill, reports the Times-Free Press.

The rate hike, the same as in each of the past two years, will raise an extra $200 million from customers in TVA’s seven-state territory.

TVA President Bill Johnson said the rate increase is less than the average of most utilities but still will allow TVA to stick to its plan to reduce debt more than $6 billion over eight years and cut carbon emissions by 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 to comply with EPA’s new Clean Power Plan requirements.

But even with better profits this year and a projected 1 percent increase in power sales next year, Johnson said higher rates are needed in fiscal 2017 to absorb the expense of adding the first new nuclear reactor to America’s grid in the 21st century.

TVA expects to begin producing power later this year at the Unit 2 reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Spring City, Tenn. The plant will generate enough power to serve about 650,000 homes but will add $450 million a year in depreciation and operating expenses. And while it will save about $200 million in fuel costs by replacing other plants, Watts Bar will still add $250 million a year in net new costs in the next year.

“When you put a capital-intensive asset into operation like Watts Bar, your embedded costs go up,” Johnson said. “But over the 40 to 60 years this plant will operate, you will generate consistent fuel savings and over the life of the plant, it is a very good investment.”

But anti-nuclear activists question the savings from the Watts Bar, which TVA began building in 1973. The twin-reactor plant was originally expected to be built in five years and cost less than $700 million. Instead, the first reactor wasn’t finished until 1996 at a cost of more than $6 billion, and TVA has spent another $4.2 billion just in the past five years building the second unit.

Columnist, brain rotted by fluoride, critiques conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories are this week’s chosen topic for columnist Robert Houk, whose brain has allegedly been “rotted” by fluoride. He has examples from Northeast Tennessee as well as nationally.

The best conspiracy theories, however, are those that are close to home. Such was the case last week when Tennessee Valley Authority officials felt the need to deny rumors that the reason it is expected to take between five and seven years to repair Boone Dam is so the Tennessee Department of Transportation could take advantage of the low (actually no) water levels in parts of the lake to build bridges for the so-called “Airport Parkway South.”

Never mind the project was shelved years ago, and no funding has been designated in the state budget for such work, the TVA and TDOT are nonetheless conspiring to revive it.

Right. And the reason is to entice actor Brad Pitt to buy a house on the lake.

Another close-to-home conspiracy theory involves this state’s “Voter ID” law. This law was passed in response to what Republican conspiracy theorists claim to be be rampant voter fraud. No evidence of such a problem, however, has been produced in Tennessee or any of the other Republican-controlled states that have passed a Voter ID law.

Democrats argue the real purpose of this American Legislative Exchange Council-written law is to keep the poor and minorities away from the polls.

That’s exactly what the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said last week when it struck down a similar Voter ID law in Texas. Perhaps those judges were under the influence of chemtrails, or maybe fluoride in their drinking water when they handed down their decision.

TDEC sends TVA an order on coal ash cleanup

News release from Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) issued a Commissioner’s Order today to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) directing the investigation, assessment and remediation of all coal ash disposal sites across Tennessee. This Order follows the federal coal combustion residual (CCR) rule, and not only ensures the state is kept abreast of TVA’s progress in complying with the federal rule, but also goes beyond what the federal rule requires.

The Order is intended to establish a transparent, comprehensive process for the investigation, assessment, and remediation of coal combustion residual disposal sites at TVA’s coal-fired power plants in Tennessee. The Order also establishes the process through which TDEC will oversee TVA’s implementation of the federal CCR rule to insure coordination and compliance with Tennessee laws and regulations that govern the management and disposal of CCR.

“Our goal in issuing this Order is to ensure that historical coal ash disposal sites are addressed in a manner that is fully protective of both the public health and the environment, as well as meeting state and federal requirements,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “The Order addresses all CCR disposal areas in the state, even those not under the jurisdiction of the federal rule.”

Significantly, the Order goes far beyond the requirements of the federal CCR rule by requiring TVA to study and appropriately address all “CCR disposal areas” including all permitted landfills, all “non-registered” landfills (landfills that existed before they were subject to regulation), and all current and former surface water impoundments that contain CCR.

The Order also requires TVA to provide public notice and an opportunity to comment on each Environmental Investigation Plan and each Corrective Action/Risk Assessment Plan at its sites across Tennessee.

“The public participation component is key,” said TDEC Deputy Commissioner Shari Meghreblian. “Allowing the public input into the site investigation, assessment and remediation process is important to the quality of the final outcome at each site.”

TVA must pay all costs associated with the TDEC’s oversight of the implementation of the order. If TVA does not meet the requirements of this order, TVA is subject to pay penalties of $5,000 per noncompliance and $1,000 for each day until the noncompliance is remedied. The order also reserves the right to further assess TVA additional civil penalties or damages incurred by the State. The right to order further investigation, remedial action, and/or monitoring and maintenance is also specifically reserved.

TVA cut costs by 9 percent so far this year (by $593M)

With a smaller staff and cheaper fuel, the Tennessee Valley Authority cut its operating expenses nearly 9 percent during the first nine months of the current fiscal year, helping the federal utility to quadruple its net income compared with the previous year.

Further from the Times-Free Press:

TVA said today it earned $32 million on revenues of $2.5 billion in the three-month period ended June 30. In the same period a year earlier, TVA lost $81 million on sales of more than $2.6 billion.

For the first nine months of the fiscal year, TVA had net income of $609 million, or more than four times the $147 million earned in the same period of the previous year.

Total operating expenses for fiscal year to date were $593 million lower than the same period last year, primarily due to savings in fuel and purchased power expense and lower non-fuel operating and maintenance costs. Fuel costs for the federal utility were down by $267 million so far this year due to cheaper natural gas, coal and purchased power.

TVA also has cut its staff by nearly 2,000 positions over the past three years as part of a plan to cut $500 million a year in operating expenses. In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today, TVA said another 200 employees will be leaving TVA this year under another voluntary reduction in force plan announced in May.

TVA said it has paid $45 million in severance payments in fiscal 2015 to encourage certain employees to retire early or resign to cut its overall staffing levels.

U.S. House votes to let state regulate coal ash waste

By Matthew Daly, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Defying a White House veto threat, the Republican-controlled House on Wednesday approved a bill granting states authority to regulate waste generated from coal burned for electricity.

The bill, approved 258-166, would largely bypass a federal rule issued last year by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The rule set the first national standards for so-called coal ash, treating it more like household garbage than a hazardous material.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., said it was needed because the EPA rule leaves open the possibility that coal ash could be designated as hazardous, creating uncertainty for industry.

The White House said in its veto threat that the House bill would undermine public health and environmental protections provided by the EPA rule. The 2008 failure of a coal ash containment site in Tennessee, and a massive spill last year in North Carolina serve as “stark reminders” of the need for safe disposal and management of coal ash, the White House said.
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Funding flows to Chickamauga lock from new barge fuel tax

Three years after work stalled on a new lock at the Chickamauga Dam, construction should resume on the $860 million project by the end of the year using revenues generated by a new barge fuel tax Congress adopted last year, according to the Times-Free Press.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wednesday released $3 million of the $6 million left over in its Inland Waterways Trust Fund to award a contract for additional work on the cofferdam and lock walls erected beneath the 75-year-old dam in Chattanooga.

Don Getty, the Corps’ director for the lock replacement project, said the money will be used to grout cracks in the temporary dam and to dewater the area where the new and bigger lock will be built.

The Corps agreed to release the money at the urging of U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. The two lawmakers have worked to revamp the funding formula, raise the barge tax and boost appropriations for the Corps’ inland dams and locks for projects like Chickamauga that were started but not finished because of a lack of funding.

Although Congress no longer allows the type of earmarks that previously helped designate money for targeted projects, Alexander and Fleischmann personally appealed to Jo-Ellen Darcy, the assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, to spend excess funds on the new Chickamauga lock.

…The Corps also will provide another $700,000 this year to the $12 million already allocated to the Kentucky lock, another TVA-built lock on the Tennessee River, and give another $2.3 million for extra work at the Olmsted Locks and Dam on the Ohio River, the Corps’ top inland waterway project.

The Corps should have even more money available for the Chickamauga lock in fiscal 2016. Alexander estimates $29 million of funding should be available next year for the new Chickamauga lock. Getty said the extra funds in fiscal 2016 could be available for more contract work by next March.

Congress boosted the Obama adminstration’s budget request for the Corps’ civil works budget by $700 million in fiscal 2016.

TVA signs on $452M gas-fired generating plant in Memphis

Tennessee Valley Authority officials on Friday signed a $452 million contract with the contractor that will build a natural gas-fired generating facility to replace the aging Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis, reports The Commercial Appeal.

Kiewit Power Group Inc. of Lenexa, Kansas, will begin construction late this year or early next year on a site just south of the Allen facility in the Ensley Bottoms area of Southwest Memphis, TVA spokesman Chris Stanley said. Completion is set for June 2018.

Including the cost of combustion turbines and other equipment already purchased by TVA, the total price of the new plant is $975 million. Stanley said the construction will pump $233 million into the Memphis-area economy.

With a capacity to generate 1,070 megawatts, enough power for more than 580,000 homes, the natural gas plant will be a highly efficient combined-cycle facility. That means it will have combustion turbines generating power as they spin, but there also will be additional electricity produced from the hot exhaust gases.

At Allen, which was built by Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division in 1959 and purchased 25 years later by TVA, the three coal-fired units have a net generating capacity of 702 megawatts, with an additional 456 megawatts available for peak demand periods from 20 gas-fired combustion units.

The new plant will create far less air pollution than Allen, according to TVA estimates. Emissions of carbon dioxide, a contributor to global warming, will be 60 percent lower than those from Allen, while nitrogen oxides, an ingredient in smog, will drop by 90 percent, and releases of sulfur dioxide will plummet to almost nothing.

Gov issues checks from TVA ‘clean air’ settlement

News release from Department of Environment and Conservation
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau today awarded more than $3.1 million to fund energy efficiency projects for local governments and municipalities, utilities and state entities across Tennessee.

The grant program provides financial assistance to eligible entities in Tennessee to purchase, install and construct environmental mitigation projects, and this is the largest amount of funding that has been allocated from the grant program since its inception.

“Clean Tennessee Energy grants fund projects that help our communities become more energy efficient while providing long-term cost savings for taxpayers,” Haslam said. “I want to thank all of these groups for their commitment to improving our communities, our environment and our state.”

Thirty eight Clean Tennessee Energy grants were awarded to recipients for projects designed to reduce air emissions, improve energy efficiency and create cost savings including projects focused on:

• Cleaner Alternative Energy – biomass, geothermal, solar, wind
• Energy Conservation – lighting, HVAC improvements, improved fuel efficiency, insulation, idling minimization
• Air Quality Improvement – reduction in greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, oxides of nitrogen, hazardous air pollutants

“We are very pleased with the impressive roster of applicants seeking energy efficient ways to decrease emissions and reduce expenses at the local level,” Martineau said. “We continue to look for ways to promote environmental awareness and energy efficiency within state government and within Tennessee’s communities.”

Funding for the projects comes from an April 2011 Clean Air Act settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Under the Consent Decree, Tennessee will receive $26.4 million over five years to fund clean air programs in the state. To date, TDEC has reimbursed roughly $6.1 million in funding to grantees for a variety of innovative projects to reduce environmental impacts and operating costs at sites of new construction and sites with aging infrastructure.

The maximum grant amount per project is $250,000 and requires a match from the applicant. Grant recipients were chosen based on the careful consideration to meet the selection criteria and for those projects that expressed the greatest need.

Note: This release and a list of those receiving the grants is posted HERE on the TDEC website.