Making Electricity

Where Does TVA Get Electricity?

When scientists and engineers talk about energy in its simplest form, they mean “the ability to do work.” Types of energy are stored in different ways. For example, the energy stored in the food you eat allows you to run and jump.

Producing electricity for people in the 80,000-square-mile Tennessee Valley region is one of TVA's most important jobs. From the refrigerator that keeps your milk cold, to the computer your mom uses at her job, to the power to keep the factories working each day, TVA power keeps the Valley running.

You may be wondering how TVA produces so much electricity. There are four main ways:

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Fossil plants

TVA burns fossil fuel (fuel formed over time in the earth from plants that died long ago) in these plants to make electricity. Coal is the fossil fuel TVA uses most.

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Nuclear plants

In these plants TVA uses heat given off when uranium atoms are split to make electricity.

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Hydroelectric plants

These plants use river water to turn generators and make electricity.

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Natural gas plants

These plants use gases given off when oil or natural gas is burned to turn turbines that run electric generators.

TVA operates three nuclear plants, 29 hydroelectric plants, 6 coal-fired plants, 17 natural gas plants, and one pumped storage hydroelectric plant. Learn more about TVA's power system.