EDITORIAL: Clean and affordable

TVA’s 9 million customers in Mississippi and all or parts of six other southern states can expect cleaner energy produced less by coal-fired plants and more by nuclear energy and natural gas as the largest public utility meets its own rising demand and efficiency expectations.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity at prices below the national average.
TVA CEO Tom Kilgore, meeting with the Daily Journal’s editorial board on Tuesday, said the authority has managed to substantially meet its three-part mission:
* Keeping rates competitive with other utilities nationwide;
* Providing efficiency measured at 99.999 percent of the optimum;
* Maintaining the Tennessee River system for navigation and recreation and the land owned by TVA in its valleywide service region.
We particularly applaud TVA’s Kilgore-led movement away from coal-fired plants as they age and become outmoded – reflecting both environmental and economic concerns.
New nuclear-generated energy from additional reactors at the Bellefonte plant in northern Alabama, plus a third new unit not yet sited, will add generating capacity. Kilgore said TVA is four or five percentage points below what it projects it needs for foreseeable demand and growth.
We support expanded nuclear and natural gas capacity as a major source because it is clean and reliable.
Kilgore said developing technology eventually will make possible using the energy left in spent fuel from existing reactors.
The additional nuclear power and additional natural-gas fired generation will close the gap, he said.
Even TVA’s old-reliable, hydroelectric power, can be refined with better technology to increase output at the existing hydroelectric dams. Kilgore said cost-effectiveness technology and non-peak-hours use probably means additional pumped-storage facilities like Raccoon Mountain, a reservoir above the Tennessee River near Chattanooga. Electricity generated by the turbines beneath the mountain recycle water to the river while meeting peak-demand loads.
TVA maintains 29 conventional hydroelectric dams throughout the Tennessee River system and one pumped-storage facility for the production of electricity.
While Kilgore said TVA is engaged in green power initiatives, he said drawbacks in the valley region are related to geography and weather – lack of sustained winds and less sun potential than in the American west. Instead, TVA is engaged in developing a network of prototype charging stations for battery powered cars, which he predicted will play a significant role in urban commuter travel.
Tupelo became the first TVA city in 1933, and TVA remains closely linked with Northeast Mississippi’s economic growth and vitality to this day.

NEMS Daily Journal