Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

TVA: Good news, bad news

This press release from the Tennessee Valley Authority skims over quite a few interesting topics:

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The TVA Board today authorized the purchase of as much as 2,000 megawatts of renewable and clean energy by 2011 as part of TVA’s plan to have 50 percent of its power supply from clean and renewable energy sources by 2020.

This is encouraging for several reasons. The 50 percent renewable energy goal is well above the target for any US power company. 2,000 megawatts is a respectable wind farm – just over the threshold to be considered “commercial” scale. Hopefully, this commitment will demonstrate that wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewables are a viable option for other US power companies to consider and deploy.

Farther along in the report, the TVA notes that the ongoing drought in the south has had some impacts on its primary function, managing the Tennessee River:

For the first three months of this year, rainfall in the eastern part of the Tennessee Valley is below normal and slightly less than rainfall during January-March of 2008. Runoff – the water that reaches streams and reservoirs – is slightly higher so far this year than it was during first three months of 2008, but is still below normal. The tributary reservoirs still need 4 to 8 inches of rain to reach normal summer levels.

I wonder if this presages a return of the water rights battles fought in recent years between Georgia (which needs the water primarily for human consumption in the Atlanta area) and Florida (which relies on that same water to support agriculture, tourism, and commercial fishing in the Okeechobee basin). I guess we’ll have to wait and see.