FRANKLIN, Tenn. ― The Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors continued to position TVA for the future as it welcomed its newest director, John Ryder, and TVA’s new President and CEO Jeff Lyash at its meeting Thursday in Franklin, Tennessee, 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, 2019.
When asked by the Board to share his initial observations of TVA and its mission, 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, 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.
The collective goal of the Tennessee Valley public power model provides a path forward. “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,” 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. 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 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.
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 October 1, 2018. Other recent achievements include:
“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 Lyash.
In other business, the board:
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving nearly 10 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.
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