Bernie Sanders’s TVA problem for his Green New Deal

Senator Bernie Sanders has released his version of the Green New Deal.  His aims include "Reaching 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030...". Being an avowed socialist, he favors government owning the means of production, which means the electric powerplants. He proposes to

Build enough renewable energy generation capacity for the nation’s growing needs. Currently, four federal Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) and the Tennessee Valley Authority generate and transmit power to distribution utilities in 33 states. We will create one more PMA to cover the remaining states and territories and expand the existing PMAs to build more than enough wind, solar, energy storage and geothermal power plants. [emphasis added]

He further proposes

To get to our goal of 100 percent sustainable energy, we will not rely on any false solutions like nuclear, geoengineering, carbon capture and sequestration, or trash incinerators. [emphases added]

Given that the largest government owned electric utility is the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), it is logical to check its performance to see how well the federal government would be able to fulfill his pledge. Note that as a Senator (as are several other candidates for President), he actually can propose legislation forcing the TVA to do what he thinks is best. He assumed his office on January 3, 2007, so we have over twelve years’ history to compare to his plan for the next eleven years, until 2030.

At this juncture, we want to establish the current status of the TVA's generation profile. On their website, they offer summaries of their power portfolio for three fiscal years, FY2007, FY2018 and FY2027.

Here are the facts.

Coal- This constituted 58% in 2007, is now 26% and is projected to be 22% in 2027.

Nuclear- This constituted 26% in 2007, is now 40% and is projected to be 43% in 2027.

Natural Gas- This constituted 10% in 2007, is now 20% and is projected to be 19% in 2027.

Hydro- This constituted 6% in 2007, is now 10% and is projected to be 10% in 2027.

Wind & Solar- This constituted 0% in 2007, is now 3% and is projected to be 5% in 2027.

Based on its own figures, the TVA fails in going green and non-nuclear. The largest growth between now and 2027 will be nuclear, with a 3% increase. That increase equals the current total it gets from wind and solar. To match it, they would have to double all their current "green renewable" installations.

Another area to watch is how have they adjusted their power portfolio during the Obama Administration? Where have they invested the taxpayers’ money?

They have been and are planning to continue to phase out coal-powered power plants. But they are replacing some of them with natural gas with carbon capture. Bernie wants to ban carbon capture. That means he needs to replace these comparatively new power plants: Lagoon Creek 2011 (525 MW), John Sevier 2012 (880 MW), Paradise 2017 (1130MW) and Allen 2018 (1100 MW). That amounts to 3,635 MW. It is noteworthy that the combined output of their solar installations is 364 kilo-watts (364 KW). Each kilowatt is one-one thousandth of one megawatt (MW), so the TVA has one thousand times as much natural gas with carbon capture as it does on solar. the list of solar installations shows one of the biggest generators of solar power is Dolly Parton's Dollywood, with two 18 KW units. Unfortunately, she also has two coal-fired steam locomotives for the Dollywood Express, which burn five tons of coal per day each.

But no examination of a government-run electric utility would be complete without reviewing the three nuclear stations with a total of seven reactors.

Sequoyah Nuclear Plant - This plant has two units and construction began in 1970. Unit 1 began operations on July 1, 1981and Unit 2 on June 1, 1982. It is rated for 2.440 MW and had its operating licenses extended an additional twenty years (2040 and 2041 respectively) in 2015. The units are already operating and are expected to keep working, carbon free, well past Bernie's 2030 target date.

Watts Bar Nuclear Plant - This plant has two units and construction began in 1973. Commercial operation of Unit 1 took place on May 5, 1996, about 23 years later!

Unit 2 was 80% complete when construction was halted in 1985. only to be re-started in 2007 at a projected cost of $2.5 billion. The final cost has been put at $4.7 billion, a fine example of government cost overruns. As to meeting the projected schedule, it suffered a host of ills including having a "chilled work environment," a transformer fire and a leaking condenser. It finally got re-started on August 1, 2017. Given construction began on September 1, 1983, it only took thirty-four years to fulfill its promise. Combined, the two units had a 2017 capacity factor of 68.10%, which offers the prospect of more generation if they can figure out how to run them properly. For comparison with the private sector, Exelon notes that in 2018 it achieved a 94.6% capacity factor from its fleet of nuclear power plants.  

Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant - This plant has three units. Unit 1 is notorious for a fire in the electrical wiring in 1975. It was repaired and ran from 1976 to 1985 when all three units were shut down. Unit 1 re-started in 2007, Unit 2 in 1991 and Unit 3 in 1995. They all now perform with high capacity factors, with Unit1 achieving a 101.62% level in 2017 producing 9,801giga-watt-hours! Reliable, carbon free power 24/7/365 for the whole year.

And that is how the TVA keeps the lights on without relying exclusively on wind and solar. But it is not compliant with Bernie's fantasy of a Green New Deal.

Senator Bernie Sanders has released his version of the Green New Deal.  His aims include "Reaching 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030...". Being an avowed socialist, he favors government owning the means of production, which means the electric powerplants. He proposes to

Build enough renewable energy generation capacity for the nation’s growing needs. Currently, four federal Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) and the Tennessee Valley Authority generate and transmit power to distribution utilities in 33 states. We will create one more PMA to cover the remaining states and territories and expand the existing PMAs to build more than enough wind, solar, energy storage and geothermal power plants. [emphasis added]

He further proposes

To get to our goal of 100 percent sustainable energy, we will not rely on any false solutions like nuclear, geoengineering, carbon capture and sequestration, or trash incinerators. [emphases added]

Given that the largest government owned electric utility is the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), it is logical to check its performance to see how well the federal government would be able to fulfill his pledge. Note that as a Senator (as are several other candidates for President), he actually can propose legislation forcing the TVA to do what he thinks is best. He assumed his office on January 3, 2007, so we have over twelve years’ history to compare to his plan for the next eleven years, until 2030.

At this juncture, we want to establish the current status of the TVA's generation profile. On their website, they offer summaries of their power portfolio for three fiscal years, FY2007, FY2018 and FY2027.

Here are the facts.

Coal- This constituted 58% in 2007, is now 26% and is projected to be 22% in 2027.

Nuclear- This constituted 26% in 2007, is now 40% and is projected to be 43% in 2027.

Natural Gas- This constituted 10% in 2007, is now 20% and is projected to be 19% in 2027.

Hydro- This constituted 6% in 2007, is now 10% and is projected to be 10% in 2027.

Wind & Solar- This constituted 0% in 2007, is now 3% and is projected to be 5% in 2027.

Based on its own figures, the TVA fails in going green and non-nuclear. The largest growth between now and 2027 will be nuclear, with a 3% increase. That increase equals the current total it gets from wind and solar. To match it, they would have to double all their current "green renewable" installations.

Another area to watch is how have they adjusted their power portfolio during the Obama Administration? Where have they invested the taxpayers’ money?

They have been and are planning to continue to phase out coal-powered power plants. But they are replacing some of them with natural gas with carbon capture. Bernie wants to ban carbon capture. That means he needs to replace these comparatively new power plants: Lagoon Creek 2011 (525 MW), John Sevier 2012 (880 MW), Paradise 2017 (1130MW) and Allen 2018 (1100 MW). That amounts to 3,635 MW. It is noteworthy that the combined output of their solar installations is 364 kilo-watts (364 KW). Each kilowatt is one-one thousandth of one megawatt (MW), so the TVA has one thousand times as much natural gas with carbon capture as it does on solar. the list of solar installations shows one of the biggest generators of solar power is Dolly Parton's Dollywood, with two 18 KW units. Unfortunately, she also has two coal-fired steam locomotives for the Dollywood Express, which burn five tons of coal per day each.

But no examination of a government-run electric utility would be complete without reviewing the three nuclear stations with a total of seven reactors.

Sequoyah Nuclear Plant - This plant has two units and construction began in 1970. Unit 1 began operations on July 1, 1981and Unit 2 on June 1, 1982. It is rated for 2.440 MW and had its operating licenses extended an additional twenty years (2040 and 2041 respectively) in 2015. The units are already operating and are expected to keep working, carbon free, well past Bernie's 2030 target date.

Watts Bar Nuclear Plant - This plant has two units and construction began in 1973. Commercial operation of Unit 1 took place on May 5, 1996, about 23 years later!

Unit 2 was 80% complete when construction was halted in 1985. only to be re-started in 2007 at a projected cost of $2.5 billion. The final cost has been put at $4.7 billion, a fine example of government cost overruns. As to meeting the projected schedule, it suffered a host of ills including having a "chilled work environment," a transformer fire and a leaking condenser. It finally got re-started on August 1, 2017. Given construction began on September 1, 1983, it only took thirty-four years to fulfill its promise. Combined, the two units had a 2017 capacity factor of 68.10%, which offers the prospect of more generation if they can figure out how to run them properly. For comparison with the private sector, Exelon notes that in 2018 it achieved a 94.6% capacity factor from its fleet of nuclear power plants.  

Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant - This plant has three units. Unit 1 is notorious for a fire in the electrical wiring in 1975. It was repaired and ran from 1976 to 1985 when all three units were shut down. Unit 1 re-started in 2007, Unit 2 in 1991 and Unit 3 in 1995. They all now perform with high capacity factors, with Unit1 achieving a 101.62% level in 2017 producing 9,801giga-watt-hours! Reliable, carbon free power 24/7/365 for the whole year.

And that is how the TVA keeps the lights on without relying exclusively on wind and solar. But it is not compliant with Bernie's fantasy of a Green New Deal.