Alexander, Fincher Raise Questions About Proposal For TVA Purchase Of Oklahoma Wind Power

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) Wednesday sent a letter to Bill Johnson, president and CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority, to raise questions about a proposal for the utility to purchase wind-generated electricity from Oklahoma.

Clean Line Energy Partners has proposed generating wind power in Oklahoma and transporting it 700 miles to Memphis. The senator and congressman asked 11 questions on a range of potential issues with such a proposal, including cost to rate payers, energy security, the reliability of wind power and eminent domain concerns associated with building a transmission line from Oklahoma to Tennessee. 

Senator Alexander said, “It’s up to the TVA board to decide what kinds of electricity to generate and purchase. But it is the responsibility of members of Congress to provide oversight to TVA policies, and these questions are part of that oversight.”

Rep. Fincher said, “It’s imperative that we understand what sort of effects this potential purchase could have on Tennessee residents. I’m particularly concerned about any possible use of eminent domain in order to complete this project, and the impact on energy costs this would have on citizens of West Tennessee.”

The letter noted a roundtable hosted by Senators Alexander and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), at which Mr. Johnson said that TVA didn’t need additional electricity generation capacity as a result of reduced electricity demand.

In their letter, Senator Alexander and Rep. Fincher wrote, “When evaluating Clean Line Energy Partners’ proposal we hope that TVA will first consider whether TVA needs additional generation capacity and then determine the best option to produce clean, cheap, and reliable electricity for rate-payers in the TVA region.”

For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.
The full text of the letter follows:
Dear Mr. Johnson,
We write today to seek your assistance in answering several questions about Clean Line Energy Partners’ proposal for TVA to purchase a large amount of wind energy that would be generated in the panhandle region of the State of Oklahoma and transported over 700 miles to Memphis.
1)      Does purchasing electricity from this distance increase security threats to the TVA’s power supply? Former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz has said we should pay attention to generating more energy where we use it because of national security risks.

2)      What is the cost of purchasing wind electricity compared to TVA generating or purchasing other types of electricity generation?

3)      There is substantial opposition in Congress to the wind production tax credit. Will TVA ratepayers be at risk of increased rates if the wind production tax credit is not renewed?

4)      What is the reliability of purchasing wind power as compared to other types of electricity generated by natural gas, nuclear, coal, or hydropower?

5)      TVA’s peak power demands tend to be between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. and wind tends to mostly blow at night. How does wind power fit into TVA’s overall demand structure if the electricity isn’t being produced when TVA needs it the most?

6)      At a roundtable in September 2013, hosted by Senators Corker and Alexander, you said that TVA didn’t need additional electricity generation capacity as the result of reduced electricity demand. Has this projection changed?

7)      If the projection for TVA’s electricity demand has changed since September 2013, does it make more sense to purchase this wind power from Clean Line Energy Partners, to build additional nuclear capacity, or to build additional natural gas or coal capacity?

8)      Does Clean Line Energy Partners’ proposal require the use of eminent domain in order to acquire any right-of-way for this project? How many land owners or homeowners will be impacted by the use of eminent domain, what specific lands will be acquired and where are they located?

9)      Can you explain how Clean Line Energy Partners plans to compensate any landowners or homeowners who are affected by eminent domain?

10)  How will the price of compensation be determined? Does Clean Line Energy Partners have a specific formula when compensating for land purchased under the use of eminent domain?

11)  What funding stream will Clean Line Energy Partners use to compensate landowners and homeowners for the land purchased under eminent domain?

When evaluating Clean Line Energy Partners’ proposal we hope that TVA will first consider whether TVA needs additional generation capacity and then determine the best option to produce clean, cheap, and reliable electricity for rate-payers in the TVA region.

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