Tag Archives: electricity

TVA cuts budget, raises electricity rates

The TVA board on Thursday approved a 1.5 percent retail rate increase estimated to cost the typical residential customer $1.50 more per month on electric bills, reports the News Sentinel.

Meeting at TVA headquarters in Knoxville, the board also approved a $10.37 billion budget — $330 million less than last year.

“This budget is in keeping with TVA’s long-term financial plan, which has helped us manage our business to a lower cost structure as businesses and consumers use less energy,” TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson said in a statement. “It reflects a modest, incremental rate increase that ensures we make necessary investments in the power system and manage down debt.”

TVA’s rate increases are applied to its power distributor customers, such as the Knoxville Utilities Board, which usually pass the increases along to their customers. The $10.37 billion budget compares to a $10.7 billion budget approved in August 2015. That budget also included a 1.5 percent rate increase, said to be driven by capital needs such as completing the Watts Bar Unit 2 nuclear reactor, and others.

Feds OK sending Oklahoma wind energy to Memphis

Plains & Eastern Clean Line Energy says construction could begin in 2017 on a $2.5 billion electric transmission line bringing Oklahoma wind power across Arkansas to Memphis now that the U.S. Department of Energy has approved the project, according to the Commercial Appeal.

Early plans call for installing $4 billion worth of wind turbines near Guymon, Oklahoma. Their electric power would run through a 700-mile-long copper line that would end in Shelby County.

In Memphis, the city-county EDGE board earlier approved a property tax break for Clean Line’s proposed $259.8 million apparatus that would funnel the electricity into TVA for use across its seven-state region.

Friday’s decision could lead to a legal fight in Arkansas led by land owners opposed to the transmission line route.

Arkansas’s congressional delegation opposed the federal decision in a statement Friday that contends state control over transmission lines is being trampled, the Arkansas Times reported. The state’s lawmakers have been trying to pass legislation to keep authority in the states.

Note: Related press release below. Continue reading

Tax break for electric utilities faces court fight

A Tennessee law granting state rural electric cooperatives a four-year property tax break on new investments, which has gone unnoticed for decades, is now likely to to face a court battle over its constitutionality, reports the Times-Free Press.

The State Board of Equalization, which hears property tax disputes, last week ruled against recent efforts by five nonprofit electric cooperative membership corporations to use the temporary exemption.

As near as anyone can figure, the provision became part of the state law on the co-ops back in a 1945 change to a 1939 law. But co-ops say they didn’t discover its existence until recently.

The board members’ decision was based on an October legal opinion issued by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery. The state’s chief lawyer said the provision violated the state Constitution, noted Hamilton County Property Assessor Bill Bennett, vice chairman of the equalization panel.

“They can still go on ahead and appeal it,” Bennett said of the co-ops, which distribute power to many rural areas of the state.

Kelsie Jones, the state board’s executive secretary, said the panel “decided to follow the advice of its attorney [Slatery] and direct the Office of State Assessed Properties to revise those assessments to remove the effect of the four-year exemption currently presently authorized by statute.”

He said the “practical effect is the assessments will go up for those companies, subject to their further legal action.”

Mike Knotts, director of government affairs for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, said the co-ops intend to go to Davidson County Chancery Court for a resolution to the issue.

“We disagree with the decision that the board made as a matter of law but are happy that there is an avenue of judicial review to look at it further,” Knotts said.

He indicated that the attorney general’s opinion is just that, an opinion.

“We contend that only the courts have the ability to interpret what is constitutional and what is not,” Knotts said. “The board decided to do something different.”

Legislators Abhor Fee Increases, Sign Off on Them Anyway

After much grumbling, state legislators on two government oversight committees have reluctantly acquiesced to fee increases that will extract millions of dollars from the Tennessee Valley Authority, dentists, veterinarians and an array of Tennessee businesses.
“We had a choice between bad and worse,” declared Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell, R-Riceville, after his committee and its House counterpart, meeting jointly, more or less signed off Wednesday on the fee increases.
He and other members of the panels also said they are looking for ways to give the committees more teeth and to hold government departments, boards and commissions more accountable.
“This is a place to fuss,” said House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, R-Franklin, speaking of last week’s special meeting for consideration of rules proposed by various state entities.

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Occupy Nashville Loses Electricity, Brings in Batteries

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state fire marshal’s office has cut off the electrical outlet Occupy Nashville was using on Legislative Plaza after an inspector found that it posed a safety threat.
The group was able to operate off a battery-powered backup generator all day Wednesday. According to The Tennessean newspaper, a spokesman said they are bringing in batteries and will get a solar powered generator (http://tnne.ws/tQavEY). The spokesman also said the group is willing to pay an electrician to rewire the outlet and make sure it is up to code.
State officials said the wiring’s insulation had melted and the exposed wiring created the potential for contact with the metal of the outlet and possible electrocution.
Occupy Nashville members said the outlet overloaded early Tuesday

TVA Raises Rates, Gives Go Ahead to Completing Nuke Plant

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Valley Authority board members have approved 2 percent average wholesale rate increase that takes effect Oct. 1 and voted unanimously to finish construction of a 37-year-old nuclear plant in northeast Alabama.
The decisions came during a Thursday meeting at TVA headquarters in Knoxville after board members heard public comments about the nuclear plant. The rate increase comes to an extra $1.60 per month.
TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore has said that building the Bellefonte reactor is the right move for the environment and for the utility’s 9 million rate payers in Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Mississippi.
Finishing the mothballed plant is projected to cost $4 billion to $5 billion, on top of about $4 billion already spent.