TVA approves plan to boost EVs

Source: By Kristi E. Swartz, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, November 16, 2020

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s board has approved a proposal aimed at putting more electric vehicles on the road.

The nation’s largest public power utility adopted a plan Friday to set a new commercial rate structure and expand the number of fast chargers across the Tennessee Valley. Drivers’ so-called range anxiety — stemming from the lack of options to charge EVs quickly — is a chief barrier to EV adoption, said Joe Hoagland, TVA’s vice president of enterprise relations and innovation, during the utility’s board meeting last week.

TVA executives said they see increased EV use as a way for the company to meet sustainability goals and lower the region’s carbon profile. The initiative also presents a new revenue stream for the utility, which sells wholesale generation to more than 150 local power companies across seven states. The new pricing program allows for those companies to resell electricity for vehicle charging and creates a separate, discounted rate for charging at public stations.

“It’s sales growth for us … and it’s a better use of our assets to maintain low rates,” Hoagland said.

TVA is on track to cut carbon emissions by roughly 60% from 2005 levels by the end of the year and wants to reach 70% carbon dioxide reduction by 2030. “The time and place are right for TVA’s electrification initiative,” TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash said at the board meeting last Friday.

Besides reducing emissions, TVA sees having a lower carbon footprint as helping boost the region’s economic development.

Tennessee is becoming a hub for EV production in the Southeast. General Motors Co., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Volkswagen AG all have made EVs a focus at their factories there. GM said recently it will spend $2 billion to convert its plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., to make electric car models starting with the Cadillac Lyriq (Energywire, Oct. 21).

Hoagland said that setting new rates is “step one” in the EV plan and that TVA will release more details later. He clarified that TVA doesn’t want to sell or set up chargers but said setting a special rate will encourage others to enter the market.

“At the end of the day, [others] will be buying TVA power, so it will be a benefit to everyone,” Hoagland said.

Board members praised executives for their EV strategy.

“I think it’s worth noting that TVA is uniquely positioned in the country to be able to implement this vehicle-charging policy because we’re public power, not for profit,” said private equity executive A.D. Frazier, who joined TVA’s board in early 2018.