TN bill would boost public’s role in TVA decision-making

Published 10:48 am Friday, March 22, 2024

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Tennesseans want more say in how the Tennessee Valley Authority plans for their future electricity needs and a bill now in Congress could give the public more influence.

The “TVA Increase Rate of Participation Act,” would require a more open decision-making process for the utility.

Brianna Knisley, director of public power campaigns for Appalachian Voices, said the TVA is currently developing its new Integrated Resource Plan to meet future energy demands. The bill would require more public participation in the plan’s proceedings.

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“Right now the stakeholders who get to provide input early on in the IRP process are all hand-selected by TVA,” Knisley pointed out. “You can’t choose to be in that IRP working group. And those are the only folks who get substantial input in the architecture of the IRP, as it’s being designed.”

The utility serves more than 10 million people across six states. The TVA said it is reviewing the legislation. A draft of the plan will be published at a later date. The TVA said it already has a “robust stakeholder engagement plan.”

After the plan is released, Knisley noted public input happens during what’s known as the scoping phase of the National Environmental Policy Act. Open houses are set up, where the TVA answers questions from the public. Knisley encouraged Tennesseans to raise any of their concerns during the public and virtual hearings.

“I think additional public input into our region’s long-term energy plan is only going to strengthen outcomes,” Knisley contended. “And make that long-term energy plan better meet the needs of the Tennessee Valley, as a whole.”

She added it is important for Tennesseans to work with Congress on the best way to improve public input in the TVA decision-making process.