- An independent regulator said TVA needed to improve its operations.
- The report comes as TVA races to meet ambitious decarbonisation targets.
- TVA does not consistently track the technology it employs, the report said.
- TVA also does not properly track how it preserves and protects R&D information.
As the Tennessee Valley Authority works to meet its ambitious decarbonization goals, the authority’s independent regulator is asking the nation’s largest public utility to bring more discipline to its operations.
In its main conclusion, the TVA Inspector General’s Office found that TVA needed to improve how it selects and tracks new technologies, such as small modular nuclear reactors, to generate electricity for 10 million people in Tennessee and parts of six other states. as an industrial and federal facility.
In addition, the inspector general warned that TVA was not effectively tracking the R&D records it was creating and that records were stored on home and shared drives that could be vulnerable to attack by outsiders.
The inspector general’s report, released Thursday, focused on the findings and recommendations, including the TVA’s response to the report.
What does the watchdog report suggest?
“Over the past decade, TVA has generally adopted commercially available proven resource technologies,” the Inspector General’s report said. “However, if TVA seeks to integrate new resource technologies, such as small modular reactors, a consistent approach to assessing new technologies may reduce negative consequences such as costs, increases, schedule delays or lower-than-expected delivery capabilities.”
The Inspector General recommends that TVA follow a framework promoted by the Government Accountability Office to adopt new technologies and assess their risks and readiness. TVA said it already had multiple assessment methods in place, but agreed to standardize the process to follow Government Accountability Office recommendations.
As for the weaknesses in records management, the report said TVA management had been informed of the issues in the past but had “taken limited steps to address them”. Some of TVA’s R&D records are “created or maintained by the agency, and records are kept on home drives and shared drives.”
A 2019 National Archives and Records Administration report said the TVA needed to take an inventory of the records. However, the inspector general’s report said TVA’s research and development team had not yet determined which of its records should be considered official and should therefore be retained. The R&D team also failed to organize and store their records in TVA’s content management system.
TVA’s response was included in the inspector general’s report, and the agency said it had made progress in implementing standard programs and practices for technology development and record-keeping. The Inspector General’s auditors have accepted TVA’s improvement plan.
How will TVA significantly reduce carbon emissions?
To reduce carbon emissions by 70% by 2030, TVA is developing new or unproven technologies, applying existing technologies to different or new uses; or combining new and existing technologies to achieve its goals.
In its efforts to achieve its decarbonization goals, TVA is:
- Reduce the use of coal-fired power plants and consider phasing out the coal industry by 2035
- Invest in its nuclear and hydropower sectors
- Invest in its natural gas industry to make it reliable year-round and able to support intermittent use of renewable energy
- Increase its solar capacity to 10,000 MW by 2035
- Increase its product portfolio in battery storage by including lithium-ion batteries. This storage will facilitate the use of renewable energy sources such as solar energy, as it will contain energy from the sun even when there is no sunlight.
Anila Yoganathan is an investigative reporter for Knox News. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @anilayoganathan. Enjoy exclusive content and premium benefits while supporting strong local news by subscribing at knoxnews.com/subscribe.