TVA Board Salutes Green Power Switch, Expands Valley Investment Initiative
April 16, 2010
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Ten years of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Green Power Switch program, one of the Southeast’s first and most successful renewable energy initiatives, was recognized Friday in a special observance at the TVA Board of Directors meeting in Knoxville.
The program, born on Earth Day 2000, offers consumers renewable energy options from Tennessee Valley regional sources, including wind, solar and methane gas. Friday’s Green Power Switch anniversary presentation, arranged by TVA’s Commercial Operations and Pricing division, gave an overview of the program’s accomplishments.
After enlisting 12 local electricity distributors and about 3,000 customers its first year, Green Power Switch enters its 10th season with 114 distributors and nearly 12,000 residential and more than 500 commercial buyers. Their renewable energy purchases, sold in $4 blocks of 150 kilowatt-hours a month, have offset 448,333 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is equal to the amount produced from burning about 1 million barrels of oil or 50 million gallons of gasoline.
“This program has been successful right from the start,” said TVA Executive Vice President of Customer Relations Ken Breeden. “We owe a great deal of thanks to the support and enthusiasm of the participating distributors, residents, and commercial and industrial customers across TVA’s service area. TVA provided a renewable energy option, and these participants have helped make this program a resounding success.”
Green Power Switch (http://www.tva.gov/greenpowerswitch/) exceeded expectations from the beginning, Breeden said. Initial estimates anticipated 9,200 blocks would be sold, but participants signed up for 10,500.
Renewable energy sources fueled by Green Power Switch include solar installations at schools, museums and theme parks around the region; turbines at TVA’s Buffalo Mountain wind park near Oak Ridge, Tenn., and a biomass operation at TVA’s Allen Fossil Plant near Memphis that uses methane gas from the City of Memphis’ wastewater treatment facility.
Renewable energy is also supplied through TVA’s Generation Partners program.
The steady 10-year growth of Green Power Switch has been prompted by an equally steady sequence of milestones and significant events, including:
- Allen Fossil Plant in 2001 began co-firing of a methane waste by-product from the City of Memphis’s wastewater treatment facility.
- Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist in 2002 signed up all state buildings in Nashville to join Green Power Switch, making Tennessee the first southeastern state to purchase green power for its state government buildings.
- TVA and participating power companies in 2003 started the Green Power Switch Generation Partners program, making available solar and wind power generation from residential and commercial sources.
- TVA teamed in 2005 with Invenergy LLC, a Chicago-based energy developer, to add 15 wind turbines and 27 megawatts on Buffalo Mountain, and the program’s residential participation surged well past the 8,000 mark.
- The Generation Partners program in 2009 expanded to include larger renewable projects and to add low impact hydropower and biomass as eligible renewable resources. Combined generating capacity of the Generation Partners portfolio has grown from 454 kilowatts to more than 1.5 megawatts.
In other business at its Friday meeting, the TVA Board approved expansion of an innovative economic development program to recruit new businesses that make long-term commitments to regional job growth, economic development and efficient use of electric power.
The board action expands TVA’s Valley Investment Initiative (http://www.tvaed.com/vii/).
The program launched in 2009 but limited to existing companies in TVA’s service area, now will offer financial incentives for qualifying new businesses that will attract new jobs and capital investments to the region.
The original Valley Investment Initiative, a joint effort between TVA and distributors of TVA power, is among the first of its kind in the nation.
Based on proposals to existing companies across the TVA region, this program already has the potential to leverage investments of $2 billion by these companies.
The expansion approved Friday provides incentive awards based on several factors, including a company’s long-term investments, jobs, wages, and compatibility of their energy efficiency improvements with the TVA power system. The expanded Valley Investment Initiative will replace past TVA incentives based primarily on businesses’ power usage.
“This expansion of an already innovative program will help bring jobs and economic growth to our region and provide more benefits to TVA, the participating companies and the communities we serve,” Breeden said.
Companies in targeted industry sectors with a minimum 250-kilowatt peak monthly power demand, at least 25 employees, no plans for major workforce reductions, minimum capital investments over five years and a standard power contract of sufficient length may qualify. The program includes strict reporting and verification processes to ensure that participating customers fulfill their commitments.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for utility and business customers in most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia – an area of 80,000 square miles with a population of 9 million. TVA operates 29 hydroelectric dams, 11 coal-fired power plants, three nuclear plants and 11 natural gas-fired power facilities and supplies up to 36,000 megawatts of electricity, delivered over 16,000 miles of high-voltage power lines. TVA also provides flood control, navigation, land management and recreation for the Tennessee River system and works with local utilities and state and local governments to promote economic development across the region. TVA, which makes no profits and receives no taxpayer money, is funded by sales of electricity to its customers. Electricity prices in TVA’s service territory are below the national average.
Mike Bradley, Knoxville, (865) 632-8860
TVA News Bureau, Knoxville (865) 632-6000