Lamar trying to micromanage TVA?

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander says he’s just exercising his congressional oversight power in his latest attack on wind-powered electricity generation, but Michael Colllins reports that  a clean energy advocacy group says he’s trying to micromanage the Tennessee Valley Authority from Washington.

For nearly 12 minutes (in a Senate floor speech Wednesday), the Maryville Republican spoke out against a Texas company’s plans to build a $2 billion, 700-mile transmission line that would bring Oklahoma wind power across Arkansas to Memphis.

As he has done before, Alexander argued TVA should not buy power from the Clean Line Energy Partners’ wind transmission project, known as the Plains and Eastern line.

Buying electricity from Clean Line Energy could cost TVA ratepayers more than $1 billion over the next 20 to 30 years — the typical length of such an agreement — and would mean that TVA would have to raise Tennesseans’ electricity bills, Alexander warned.

“TVA is on a good path,” the senator said. “Its leadership has made sound decisions that will benefit ratepayers and our region.”

TVA has concluded it doesn’t need more power for the foreseeable future, Alexander said, but even if it did, “TVA should not agree to buy more wind power, which is comparatively unreliable and expensive.”

The head of an organization that tracks energy issues in the southeast called the senator’s comments inaccurate, misleading and an obvious attempt to pressure the TVA.

“This is one senator micromanaging the Tennessee Valley Authority, and I think it’s inappropriate for him to do that,” said Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “He can’t even get his facts right.”

In a blog post, Smith wrote that Alexander is using outdated information to support his claims that wind power is expensive. What’s more, Smith said in an interview, Alexander seems to have “a pathological obsession against wind.”

“As a senator for the state of Tennessee, I don’t understand why he wouldn’t put his personal dislike for wind aside and look at what is best for the citizens of Tennessee and the ratepayers of Tennessee,” Smith said.

Contrary to the senator’s remarks, the Clean Line project would diversify the energy portfolio in Tennessee and actually result in cheaper electricity rates in the Tennessee Valley because wind power prices are at historic lows, Smith said.

Note: Alexander’s press release on the matter, including text of his Senate floor speech, is HERE.

5 Responses to Lamar trying to micromanage TVA?

  • Nicholas Thornton Crafton says:

    Wind Power turbines KILL untold numbers of birds and bats. The blade tips slice in a direction and speed that is does NOT resemble anything in nature and is undetectable by the victims. This is indiscriminate slaughter of daylight and nighttime avians.

  • Jennie Young says:

    No energy source kills wildlife quite like the fossil fuel industries. How many pictures of oil-soaked birds and dead fish does one have to see to get the overblown fallacy of the argument that wind power is the greater threat. A primary difference in the green energy approach is that they are willing to change their policies and practices to protect wildlife, like avoiding areas in the path of migratory birds and revisiting their designs. Since when has the fossil fuel industry given a flip about how many streams and rivers and wells they poison and how much pollution they spew into the atmosphere? Lamar Alexander’s interference surprises me, but isn’t it always the case that Congress is the last to let go of the old and adapt to the new and better? When steam replaced sails, Congress, true to form, was last on board.

  • Joel Dyer says:

    Are the paid lobbyists for Clean Line trying to micromanage the TVA? I trust Senator Alexander more than I trust those Clean Line people.

  • Joel Dyer says:

    Tom Humphrey, did you ask Stephen Smith if his little organization receives funding from Clean Line? If he does receive funding, that makes him a spokesman for Clean Line. Clean Line has never built or managed a transmission line. They employ more Political Science grads than engineers. Their main expertise seems to be public relations and lobbying.

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