MURFREESBORO, Tenn. ― The Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors today approved a $300 million strategic fiber initiative that will expand TVA’s fiber capacity and improve the reliability and resiliency of the transmission system. The network expansion will help meet the power system’s growing need for bandwidth as well as accommodate the integration of new, distributed energy resources.
“Our fiber network was constructed beginning in 1988 and it is outmoded and insufficient, especially as the electric sector becomes more digitized. This initiative could also assist with economic development opportunities for the Tennessee Valley,” TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson said. “With a modernized fiber backbone for the transmission system, we have the potential to make some fiber capacity available to help local communities and rural areas attract and retain jobs.”
“Broadband connectivity is vital for business and industry choosing to locate in the Valley. The economic development effort will be a partnership between TVA, the Valley states, local power companies and other service providers who have the necessary expertise,” Johnson said. “Throughout this process, our efforts will be governed by requirements that we maintain rate competitiveness and work in partnership with local power companies and others for the benefit of the public we serve.”
The fiber initiative will take five to 10 years to complete and will include 3,500 miles of fiber to enable broadband connections for more of TVA’s generating plants and as well as more of its customers.
The board also approved two major contracts that will help ensure a reliable fuel supply for the Sequoyah and Watts Bar nuclear units through the year 2030. Louisiana Energy Services, a supplier of uranium used in making fuel, was awarded a contract valued at $500 million. A $450 million contract was approved with Westinghouse Electric, or a successor, as the supplier of fuel fabrication services.
In addition, the board authorized the CEO to enter into contracts for work necessary to continue a comprehensive program to convert all wet storage of coal ash to dry storage and meet the environmental standards for water quality and effluents at those sites. The combined value of the contracts is capped at $1.9 billion. TVA conducted an extensive environmental review with public input on how to best manage coal ash impoundments across the system. The review showed that dewatering – and permanently and safely capping and closing the impoundments – is the best option environmentally and to keep rates low.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving more than 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.