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  • Writer's pictureKaren Young

7 progressive environmental groups hold Nashville hearing on TVA

Welcome to Take Action Tuesday!

Public hearings are an important way to show support for progressive policy ideas and hold government agencies to account.  They can also help create and cement ties among like-minded people and organizations in a community. 

Sometimes the government agencies refuse to hold public hearings.  No matter!  You can hold your own damn public hearing, as these groups did on Jan. 25:  Appalachian Voices, Energy Alabama, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Sunrise Nashville, Center for Biological Diversity, Climate Reality Project: Memphis and Nashville chapters, and Vote Solar.

What is the TVA?

According to Wikipedia, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is a federally owned electric utility corporation.  TVA's service area covers all of Tennessee, portions of Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky, and small areas of Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia. While owned by the federal government, TVA receives no taxpayer funding and operates similarly to a private for-profit company. It is the sixth-largest power supplier and largest public utility in the country.

Why is it federally owned, you may ask? 

The TVA was created by Congress in 1933 as part of FDR’s New Deal. Its initial purpose was to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing, regional planning, and economic development to the Tennessee Valley, a region that had suffered from lack of infrastructure and even more extensive poverty during the Great Depression than other regions of the nation. TVA was envisioned both as a power supplier and a regional economic development agency that would work to help modernize the region's economy and society. It later evolved primarily into an electric utility.

Why a public hearing now?

Justin J. Pearson, the famous State Representative from TN, a guest speaker at the hearing, sent out an invite saying in part:

Did you know that TVA is defying climate goals and has the largest gas buildout of any utility by 2030?  Don't let TVA keep people in the dark about energy decisions that will impact how much they pay for power, air and water quality, jobs, and whether the lights stay on during extreme weather [which has been a big problem in TN]. Join us to urge TVA to transition away from polluting fuels to renewable, resilient, and low-cost power.

TVA, the country’s largest public power provider, has refused to hold its own public hearing on their energy plan, a 25-year plan called the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), despite criticism of the utility’s lack of transparency and public engagement in its power system planning process.

Unlike most utilities across the country, TVA is not regulated by a public utilities commission. 

Information gathered at the hearing will be delivered to TVA’s board, working group and staff.

How was the hearing?

The hearing involved expert testimony from the groups involved, a visit from environmental champion Sen. Ed Markey, as well as break-out sessions where members of the public could discuss their own ideas for what is to be done.

They got some nice ink from the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Congratulations to Sunrise Nashville and all those involved!  Keep up the good work!

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