TVA Planning Clean Combined-Cycle Gas Plant; Ritch To Become Board Chairman

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The TVA board of directors on Thursday discussed TVA’s "strong performance in meeting an extraordinary demand for electricity in January" and the addition of a combined-cycle gas plant "to provide affordable, cleaner power to the Tennessee Valley."

            The board also selected Joe Ritch as chairman-elect to succeed Bill Sansom when Mr. Sansom’s term ends on May 18. Mr. Ritch would be the first Alabama resident to serve as chairman of TVA, which serves a seven-state region.

At its November meeting, the board adopted a resolution providing a process that aligns the chairman’s term with the TVA Act and provides a timely and orderly selection of a new chairman and the transition from one chairman to the next.

Following that protocol, the board selected Mr. Ritch of Huntsville, Ala. Mr. Sansom has served as chairman on three occasions since joining the board in 2006. Mr. Ritch, who joined the board in 2013, will become chairman on May 19.

 “It’s no exaggeration to say that January was one of the most demanding months in TVA’s generation history,” TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson said. “In early January, we faced the coldest temperatures our region has seen since 1996, and some of the highest power demands.”

Three waves of arctic cold in January tested the reliability of the TVA power and transmission system to keep the lights and heat on for the Valley’s 9 million residents. By the end of the month, the region established several winter peak demand marks and five of the Top 10 days for the most energy used in TVA history.

“We appreciate all that our customers, their customers and the public did to help reduce demands on the power system, and the commitment and diligence of TVA and local power company employees in operating the system safely and reliably under such conditions,” Mr. Johnson said.

All segments of TVA’s generating system contributed to meeting power requirements during this period – hydroelectric, gas, coal, renewables and TVA’s three nuclear plants, where improved performance was noted recently by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Mr. Johnson said consumers will see higher bills over the next couple of months due to their increased power usage during these extreme temperatures.

“Keeping our energy affordable and reliable, and having lower power rates for all our customers, is TVA’s priority,” he said. “We take our commitment to keep rates affordable seriously, and we are especially mindful of cost when weather is a hardship.”

Officials said TVA works with local power companies throughout the year to offer programs that help businesses and households use electricity more efficiently and save on their power bills. Since 2007, TVA’s energy efficiency and demand response efforts have provided an estimated savings of 2,200 gigawatt-hours a year, or enough to power almost 140,000 Tennessee Valley homes.

TVA also continues to develop a more balanced generation portfolio to meet TVA’s goals for cleaner, lower-cost and reliable power, officials said.

In November, the board approved plans to build a gas plant to replace two coal-fired units at the Paradise Fossil Plant site in Kentucky. Mr. Johnson told the board the gas plant will be a high-efficiency, combined-cycle design and will be targeted for completion in summer 2017 at a cost of about $1 billion. TVA has bought or built five combined-cycle gas plants since 2007.

“We have determined that a combined-cycle gas plant at Paradise will help ensure power system stability and reliability in the northern-most part of our service area while meeting environmental regulations,” Mr. Johnson said.

Chief Financial Officer John Thomas provided the board with a review of financial performance for the first quarter in which operating expenses declined and bottom line results improved over the same period a year ago. TVA is working to reduce operations and maintenance expenses by a sustainable $500 million by 2015.

The board also recognized Casey Scoggins as TVA Engineer of the Year. Mr. Scoggins, a manager in Transmission engineering, leads a team of engineers and technicians in helping make sure TVA customers can count on TVA power 99.999 percent of the time.

In other action, the board approved the following:

  • Recertification of the Regional Resource Stewardship Council, an advisory panel created in 2000 to increase public participation in TVA management of natural resources, water supply and public lands.
  • Due to a long lead time, a contract for the eventual replacement of steam generators for the Unit 2 reactor at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant.
  • A contract for nuclear fuel fabrication services for the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant through 2025.

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