(Chattanooga Times Free Press) For the first time in its 83-year history, the Tennessee Valley Authority is delivering less electricity to the average household than in years past.
Electric power usage is falling as most households and businesses switch to more energy efficient lights, appliances and motors.
“We are seeing something that we have not seen before, which is a decline in per capita usage — mostly due to organic efficiencies,” TVA President Bill Johnson said Tuesday in announcing a drop in TVA sales during the first half of the current fiscal year.
As TVA gears up for its traditionally heavy summertime power demand for air conditioning during the hot summer months, the utility does not expect to approach the summertime peak reached in 2007 when TVA customers consumed 33,499 megawatts of electricity.
“We don’t know if we are going to ever see that 2007 peak again or not,” Johnson said. “We have a record number of customers we serve today, but on a per capita basis, usage is declining.”
A decade ago, TVA forecast load growth of nearly 4 percent a year, requiring TVA to add an extra coal or natural gas unit every year or another nuclear reactor every two or three years. But power demand ended up falling during the 2008-2010 recession and has not fully bounced back yet.
In TVA’s most recent Integrated Resource Plan largely written two years ago, TVA predicted annual growth of nearly 1 percent and once again those projects have been lowered.
The slowdown in power demand growth has come even as economic growth has quickened in the Tennessee Valley. TVA said it helped recruit more than $6 billion of new investment in the Tennessee Valley during the past six months.