Residents speak out at TVA board meeting about energy bills

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – With weather recently dropping into the teens and twenties, the Tennessee Valley Authority says conditions were harsh—for consumers and their power bills.

TVA’s proposed rate change system that they say will help reduce cost to consumers, but it is causing some confusion.

Sandra Upchurch, the Energy Justice Manager for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy pleaded to the board saying, “Imposing mandatory fees is an injustice while giving industries a break. There will be no peace in the valley without energy justice. TVA, what you are doing is putting profits before people.”

Concerned citizens from cities across Tennessee stood before the Tennessee Valley Authority Board at their first quarter meeting Friday morning. Some were worried by their large power bills and the newly-proposed rate system that is on the table. TVA says there are misconceptions about the proposal.

John Thomas, TVA’s Chief Financial Officer says, “Perhaps part of that structure should be more fixed and not go up when we have a cold winter and had we had a rate structure in place in January, then people’s rates would not have gone up as much.”

Stephen Smith, Executive Director with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, says that his mandatory fixed rate has almost tripled since 2000 and it hasn’t always been this way.

Smith says, “I have to pay that every month before I flip the first light switch on. What TVA is proposing is they want to increase these mandatory fixed fees so that you are paying more even though you may be using less power and we just find that unacceptable.”

Thomas says they are still in the planning phases and that is why they open the floor to their customers.

“It’s an ongoing dialogue, an ongoing discussion. We partner with the local power companies because in many cases these consumers really sit behind the local power companies and so we are working with them about what we are doing and how we are doing it,” says Thomas.

TVA is expected to vote on the current proposal in May and possibly implement the new rate structure in October of 2019.


Categories: Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Local News

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