- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The country’s largest public utility will rely more on natural gas, renewable energy and even energy efficiency in the future.

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s board of directors Friday unanimously approved an Integrated Resource Plan, which will serve as a roadmap for how the utility meets its customers’ energy needs over the next 20 years. As part of the plan, energy efficiency is viewed on a level playing field with other forms of power for the first time.

CEO Bill Johnson told the board efficiency currently makes up about 5 percent of the utility’s portfolio, and he expects that to rise to 10 percent by 2025.

Also by 2025, the utility projects that 60 percent of its electricity will come from non-carbon emitting sources. That will include the nuclear power provided by the Watts Bar Unit II reactor expected to come online this winter.

Johnson said the utility has committed almost $8 billion to solar and wind projects to date. Between 2007 and the current fiscal year, TVA has spent more than $700,000 on efficiency, he said.

The resource plan calls for no new “baseload capacity” beyond the completion of Watts Bar and already proposed upgrades at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant. Baseload capacity generators are large, high capacity plants that are designed to run 24-hours-a-day and are not designed to respond to quick changes in demand, TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said. They traditionally include nuclear plants and large coal-burning plants.

Also on Friday, the board approved at $10.7 billion budget for fiscal year 2016 that includes a 1.5 percent rate increase. According to the utility, that amounts to about $1.50 more per month for the average Tennessee Valley resident using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month. The increase takes effect Oct. 1.

The Tennessee Valley Authority supplies power to about 9 million people in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

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