News from the Tennessee Valley Business

TVA considers letting distributors have stake in plant

By Duncan Mansfield
Associated Press Writer

KNOXVILLE — The Tennessee Valley Authority is exploring ways to share the load with its distributors and ease the load on energy-conscious consumers.

Officials at the country’s largest public utility said Friday they are working on a deal that for the first time in TVA’s 74-year history would allow the agency’s 159 distributors to have a stake in a TVA power plant — a gas-fired combustion turbine station in Gleason, about 100 miles west of Nashville.

The Tennessee Valley Public Power Association, which represents the distributors, has formed a nonprofit organization to channel investment by its members into TVA power plants. The first deal would involve about $200 million in upgrades to the Gleason station to make it an intermediate power provider for TVA.

“It is a great opportunity for making sure we get some equity in the valley,” TVPPA President and CEO Jack Simmons said of his members. It also gives TVA additional capacity without adding to its $25 billion debt.

TVA directors also approved a pilot program that will offer “time-of-use” pricing to consumers in five test communities. That means cheaper rates at low-demand periods and higher rates at peak periods.

The program will be offered this summer to five distributors with the equipment to adjust thermostats for 250 to 1,000 residential consumers each. Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board is the first to sign up.

“I don’t expect any of it to be manual, it is all going to be automated,” TVA customer service executive Ken Breeden said. “And then the key is I want to know how the customer felt about it when it happened.”

Both initiatives respond to goals in a draft strategic plan released Friday. TVA will take public comments before adopting the plan May 30. The document will the guide TVA for the next decade on everything from energy reliability to finances to customer satisfaction.

“I am very pleased to see a focus on conservation,” TVA director Skila Harris said of the plan. “I know this is a sea change of sorts for TVA because our business model has not been predicated on a conservation ethic.

“But I think it is the right thing to do for our customers. Ultimately, a megawatt not built is less expensive typically than a megawatt built.”

Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, urged TVA to strive to become one of the most energy-efficient utilities in the country.

“In reality, TVA does lag behind the country in our investment in energy efficiency,” he said. “We have some of the highest consumption rates in the United State for residential customers and that means we are burning more coal and having to build more capacity.”

TVA chief nuclear officer announces retirement plans

KNOXVILLE (AP) — The top executive in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s nuclear power program announced Friday that he is retiring.

Karl Singer, who joined TVA in 1993 after serving in the U.S. Navy, won’t be leaving immediately. He is expected to remain for a few more months, concentrating on the $1.8 billion restart of a mothballed reactor at the Browns Ferry nuclear station near Athens.

“This is a decision I have been contemplating over the last year,” Singer said. “The past five years of work on the restoration of Brown’s Ferry Unit 1 have been a rewarding challenge, but I believe with the restart near, this is a good time to announce my retirement.”

Browns Ferry Unit 1 is expected to return to service in May for the first time since 1985. It will be the United States’ first “new” nuclear generation of the 21st century.

“I appreciate what Karl has done the past few years during this important time in the history of TVAs nuclear program,” TVA President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Kilgore said.

Singer, one of TVA’s highest-paid executives, earned nearly $1.3 million last year.

Preston Swafford, senior vice president for nuclear services, will assume responsibility for TVA’s five other nuclear reactors while Singer concentrates on Browns Ferry Unit 1.

“We expect to name a new chief nuclear officer soon and move to the next stage of our nuclear operation,” Kilgore said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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