The TVA Board of Directors welcomed its newest director, John Ryder, and TVA’s new President and CEO Jeff Lyash at its meeting Thursday in Franklin, Tn., which also saw the passing of the gavel from current Chair Richard Howorth to Chair-Elect James “Skip” Thompson, who will officially begin his new role on May 19.
When asked by the Board to share his initial observations of TVA and its mission, Mr. Lyash said, “I’ve been impressed by the strategic advantage the Tennessee Valley public power model offers the nearly 10 million people who count on TVA and our local power company partners every day. I’ve never seen anything quite as strong in the industry.”
“Power rates are among the lowest I’ve seen, economic development efforts are above and beyond other utilities and there is a strong commitment to environmental stewardship, both in our day-to-day operations and in managing the public lands and waters entrusted to our care.”
Still, Mr. Lyash noted there is more work to be done. Like the rest of the utility industry, TVA is challenged with effectively dealing with the environmental impacts of coal combustion residuals. Likewise, more effort is required to strengthen relationships with local power companies and the communities they serve, such as our current work with MLGW in Memphis. Steps are already being taken to provide additional leadership and focus in these areas, said officials.
“This is an organization and a community of local power companies who understand what we’re here for, and that’s to improve the quality of life here in the Valley through our service. It’s ingrained in everything we do, and I’m happy to be part of it,” Mr. Lyash added.
TVA’s generating fleet is at the heart of the model, which uses power revenues to fund its work in natural resource stewardship and economic development. TVA has invested to diversify the fleet to ensure electricity is delivered reliably and at the lowest feasible rate while continuing to reduce the environmental footprint, said officials. In the first six months of fiscal year 2019, 56 percent of the energy delivered to the Valley came from carbon-free sources. Since 2005, carbon emissions have been reduced more than 50 percent
As part of the ongoing investment to ensure reliability and flexibility as the area’s energy needs evolve, the board approved a five-year contract to purchase high-voltage circuit breakers to maintain and expand TVA’s transmission system.
“We are entering an exciting time in the utility industry since electrification is considered a key enabler to reduce carbon and power new technologies, such as transportation,” said Mr. Lyash. “TVA must continue to make the right investments to optimize generation and transmission and position us for the integrated energy network of the future.”
The board also approved administrative changes to TVA’s grid access charge to adjust for businesses and industries that change rate classes due to expansions or increased energy needs. The modification does not impact the revenue-neutral rate change the board approved in May 2018, but reinforces the board’s position that everyone who benefits from TVA’s energy fairly supports its continued delivery, said officials.
Cleaner, reliable energy and low costs continue to support TVA’s economic development mission. Partnering with local power companies and other economic development agencies, TVA helped attract or retain more than 46,000 jobs and $6.3 billion in capital investment to the area since Oct. 1, 2018, said officials. Other recent achievements include:
Managing record-setting February rainfall on the Tennessee River system to prevent $1.6 billion in potential flood damage while simultaneously using the excess water to increase hydroelectric generation by 40 percent.
Bringing a 53-megawatt solar facility – Tennessee’s largest – online in Millington in partnership with the Memphis, Light, Gas and Water, the U.S. Navy and the city of Millington.
Issuing a request-for-proposal for an additional 200 megawatts of renewable energy.
Completing the final extended power uprate at Browns Ferry, which will increase the total output of carbon-free energy at the facility by 465 megawatts when testing and validation is complete this summer.
Publishing a draft of a revised Integrated Resource Plan that highlights an increasing need for renewable energy over the next 20 years.
Reporting a net income of $5.5 billion for the first six months of the fiscal year while maintaining stable fuel costs due to a diverse generation portfolio.
Reducing debt by $691 million since the beginning of the fiscal year, leading to a $34 million reduction in interest expenses from the same period last year.
"As TVA enters its 86th year of service, our continued focus on controlling operating and maintenance expenses, reducing debt and investing in cleaner, more flexible generation will strengthen TVA’s ability to evolve to meet our customer’s future needs while keeping rates low,” said Chief Financial Officer John Thomas.
“I am glad to be joining the TVA team at a time when we have the solid financial and operational performance that allows us to better focus on a strategy for the future,” added Mr. Lyash.
In other business, the board:
Acknowledged Board Chair Richard Howorth’s service as he completes his two-year term in that role. He will remain a board director with his term officially ending on May 18, 2020.
Recognized the service of board directors Virginia Lodge and Ronald Walters as their terms officially end on May 18. Board by-laws allow directors to remain active members until a replacement is sworn into office, or until the end of the current Congressional term in January 2020.