TVA discusses transmission, nuclear power issues

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board has tweaked transmission access rates to address transmission service requests for by electric generators who seek to move power across TVA lines.

The move came during the TVA board meeting at Bowling Green, Ky., which was webcast.

TVA officials said they want to ensure continued “balance” between the amounts of electricity that generators plan to move across the TVA lines, and the amount that is actually transmitted.

“If this sounds complicated, it’s because it is,” said TVA board member Peter Mahurin. “It’s been a minor problem through the years,” and has the potential to become more significant over time, Mahurin said.

Basically, TVA is modifying its procedure to discourage anyone “gaming the system,” Mahurin said.

TVA has roughly 16,000 miles of power lines, making it one of the largest transmission systems in North America. TVA complies with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) open access rules, officials said.

The TVA board meets quarterly and the biggest news from the past quarter was TVA receiving its long-sought operating license for Watts Bar 2 from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson again said that TVA expects to load fuel in preparation for operation of the 1,150-MW reactor soon.

As for TVA’s existing nuclear units, there were some challenges during the past quarter, especially an unscheduled outage at the Sequoyah nuclear plant, said TVA board member Marilyn A. Brown.

TVA Executive Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Joe Grimes said there were some “unusual” equipment reliability issues at Sequoyah 1. TVA is investigating that problem and also looking at similar equipment at Sequoyah 2 during the ongoing refueling outage at Unit 2, Grimes said.

It was subsequently noted that both Sequoyah units have reached 20-year license renewals from NRC.  

When discussing coal plants, Johnson again stressed that the decision to retire some coal units has been “difficult” given resulting job losses. The TVA CEO also said that construction of a new combined-cycle gas power plant at the Paradise station is well underway.

About 600 construction workers are currently involved in the project. The new combined-cycle plant should enter commercial operation in June 2017, Johnson said. The combined-cycle plant will complement the work of coal-fired Unit 3 at Paradise, Johnson said.

Construction of new emission controls at the Shawnee coal plant should start this year, Johnson said.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.