Powering Strong Communities

TVA’s Lyash Underscores Need For Public Power Utilities To Share Expertise, Best Practices

Now more than ever it is crucial for public power utilities “to share our expertise, our best practices, our best thinking as we collaborate on solutions” to solving new challenges, said Jeff Lyash, President and CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority, on June 14 in a speech at the American Public Power Association’s (APPA) 2022 National Conference in Nashville, Tenn.

As an example, Lyash noted that supply chain challenges “are an immediate concern.”

APPA has taken a leadership role when it comes to addressing supply chain challenges, Lyash said, noting that APPA held a supply chain summit in May and has developed a voltage matching and sharing tool through APPA’s eReliability Tracker.

“I’m grateful to everyone who’s working with others to mitigate delays and shortages in transformers and other equipment,” Lyash said.

He noted that TVA leaders recently met “with many of our local power companies that we serve and like many of you we’re focused on how we can best leverage resources and collaborate to meet these immediate needs.”

TVA Strategic Intent And Guiding Principles Document

Meanwhile, Lyash noted that a year ago, TVA issued a Strategic Intent and Guiding Principles document, which he stressed “reinforces our commitments and sets realistic and clear targets.”

TVA’s board in May 2021 approved a resolution endorsing TVA’s Strategic Intent and Guiding Principles.

Lyash said that TVA is on a path to “reduce our carbon emissions by 80 percent against a 2005 benchmark by 2035. We’ve already reduced carbon emissions by 60 percent and we’re executing a plan to reach 80 percent.” TVA believes it can deliver on this plan without raising prices or adversely affecting reliability.

“Going further or faster will take research, development and the deployment of technologies that, frankly, we don’t have today at a competitive price,” he said.

Maintaining a balance

Electricity “is foundational to national security, quality of life, health and safety, and it will be more so in the coming decades than it is today,” Lyash said.

There is a balance “that we have to maintain,” he said, noting that his “view of this is that balance is between” affordability, reliability, resiliency, and sustainability.

“If you sacrifice one for the others, it all falls apart,” Lyash said.

“We cannot have net zero carbon if we triple the price of electricity,” he said. “Likewise, we can’t have low-cost electricity and not address greenhouse gas reduction and cleaning up our industry. We can’t sacrifice reliability for price. This is a balance among these four that is critically important.”

Transitioning To The Future

Addressing the energy industry’s transition to the future, Lyash said that “this is a generational transition. It would be nice to do this tomorrow, but it’s mandatory that we do it successfully.”

There needs to be a focus on practicality “and doing what we can do, when we can do it and staying focused on that mission,” he said.

Lyash believes that the power industry is “going to be one of the keys for the next three decades.”

Public power “has the opportunity to be at the forefront of that because the people in the room I’m looking at don’t wake up every morning” worried about things like shareholder return and earnings.

“We all wake up every morning worried about the one hundred million people that we collectively serve and what’s best for them and how can we contribute to that,” he said.

“On our path to a clean energy economy for our customers and the nation, no one technology, no one point of view will get us there. Our collaborative journey is going to require” the best science, best leadership and it’s going to have to happen across multiple fronts, he said.

“Broad perspectives on energy sources, opportunities, and innovation will be required. We need to share knowledge, we need to forge strong partnerships, we need to build effective collaboration on a wide range of issues, particularly new technology.”

Public power utilities “know those requirements well. They are some of public power’s strengths, in fact – collaboration, commitment and leadership. As with any important issue, how we achieve the clean energy economy needs to foster varying points of view and I encourage you to share your ideas, share your perspectives, share those of your customers and your communities,” Lyash said.