Inflation and the cost of meeting new air-quality standards led to increases in the cost of electricity nationwide, and the impact was keenly felt in the Tennessee Valley region. Even so, Valley rates remained below national averages, despite the region’s traditionally high power consumption.
TVA planned six nuclear plants in addition to Browns Ferry to meet anticipated power demand. But by the late 1970s, the decades-long trend in demand growth had slowed substantially, and building nuclear plants to safe standards proved to be more costly and time-consuming than expected. As a result, TVA cancelled about half the nuclear units then planned.
TVA became a national leader in energy conservation during this period, offering free home-energy surveys, home insulation and weatherization programs, and consumer loans for measures to reduce electricity consumption. TVA also began electric-vehicle research and operated the nation’s largest bus and van-pooling system for employees.
TVA reached important air quality agreements with the Environmental Protection Agency and successfully transplanted the snail darter, an endangered species of fish, from what was then believed to be its only habitat near Tellico Dam. Snail darters were later discovered living naturally elsewhere in the region.