Peak Season Power Requirements TVA MISO in Memphis MLGW
Now we know. TVA does not have a large enough energy load to provide MLGW with adequate electricity during cold spells and heat waves, so it turns to MISO for help.
I have been involved in the discussion about the future power supply of MLGW for the past few years. We challenged the management of MLGW and the powerful TVA lobby group, which has consistently undermined efforts to consider serious proposals that Memphis should leave TVA for a cheaper and more reliable electricity provider.
Yet we were stunned to learn this week that neither MLGW nor TVA – in nearly four years of discussions – revealed that TVA routinely purchases huge amounts of electricity from the Midwestern Independent System Operator (MISO). .
These hard facts are embedded in Energy Information Administration data, first reported by Samuel Hardiman of The Commercial Appeal. The article exposes the discrepancies between what TVA tells us and what TVA actually does.
After reading The Commercial Appeal article, we also checked the Energy Administration’s website and found that TVA purchased about 10% of all of its electricity demand on a daily basis seven-state system with MISO for at least the last year, and probably longer. . Meanwhile, TVA claims a 99.999% reliability rate, even during months of extreme weather when this self-proclaimed powerhouse relies on MISO to keep our lights on.
Opinion:TVA responds to Commercial Appeal article on how it relied on MISO this summer for power
This is a troubling omission since MISO is TVA’s main competitor. Located just across the Mississippi River, MISO offers us the opportunity to break TVA’s iron grip – a grip that comes with higher costs and increased risk and, arguably now, reliability even less.
TVA’s reliance on MISO is a fact that TVA has kept hidden during the ongoing RFP process in which 21 energy companies and organizations have submitted proposals to provide MLGW with alternative energy solutions.
The Energy Administration data flatly contradicts what TVA and MLGW have previously presented to the public. Even more disturbing: there is no evidence that TVA or MLGW shared this groundbreaking information with the Memphis City Council or our city administration.
According to the Energy Administration, for example: TVA purchased net electricity from MISO daily from August 29, 2021 through August 28, 2022. During the coldest month (February) of this period, including the last Memphis ice storm, TVA purchased an average of 11.6% of its daily electricity demand from MISO, peaking at
17.7% on February 15, 2022. In the hottest month of the past year, July 2022, TVA purchased an average of 12.2% of its daily electricity demand from MISO, peaking at 16.6 % on July 28.
The data undermines MLGW’s likely recommendation that our utility should stay with TVA, since the RFP’s rating process is based largely on reliability. TVA’s large and consistent purchases of MISO power prove that MISO’s power supply is deeper, and therefore more reliable, by the tender’s own standards.
The Energy Administration report also reveals that TVA regularly sells electricity to its neighbors to the east, i.e. Duke Energy and the Southern Companies, reflecting that the major generating assets of TVA can be found in eastern Tennessee. The logical conclusion is clear: TVA needs help in its Western footprint – Memphis – and MISO Electric has undoubtedly been a big player in powering MLGW.
Despite TVA’s record profits, the taxpayers of MLGW – you and I – are caught off guard by unprecedented electricity bills. Yet MLGW says there is no way to reduce electricity costs. What our utility fails to recognize is that the advantage of multiple electricity providers would reduce our energy costs compared to the captivity of a bloated and expensive monopoly like TVA.
Once the President of MLGW presents his recommendation on our future energy source to the MLGW Board, we will await a professional and transparent analysis of the tender from Mayor Jim Strickland’s energy consultant who, we believe will be the independent voice that has been lacking so far.
Karl Schledwitz is president and CEO of Monogram Food Solutions Inc. in Memphis. He is also a co-founder of the now defunct $450 million company for Memphis, which advocated for MLGW to quit TVA to buy power elsewhere.