WASHINGTON âÂ Sen. Lamar Alexander says heâs just exercising his congressional oversight powers. But a clean energy advocacy group says heâs trying to micromanage the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Around 4:30 pm last Wednesday, Alexander headed to the Senate floor to launch yet another attack against one of his favorite targets: wind power.
For nearly 12 minutes, the Maryville Republican spoke out against a Texas companyâs plans to build a $2 billion, 700-mile transmission line that would bring Oklahoma wind power across Arkansas to Memphis.
As he has done before, Alexander argued TVA should not buy power from the Clean Line Energy Partnersâ wind transmission project, known as the Plains and Eastern line.
Buying electricity from Clean Line Energy could cost TVA ratepayers more than $1 billion over the next 20 to 30 years â the typical length of such an agreement â and would mean that TVA would have to raise Tennesseansâ electricity bills, Alexander warned.
âTVA is on a good path,â the senator said. âIts leadership has made sound decisions that will benefit ratepayers and our region.”
TVA has concluded it doesnât need more power for the foreseeable future, Alexander said, but even if it did, âTVA should not agree to buy more wind power, which is comparatively unreliable and expensive.â
The head of an organization that tracks energy issues in the southeast called the senatorâs comments inaccurate, misleading and an obvious attempt to pressure the TVA.
âThis is one senator micromanaging the Tennessee Valley Authority, and I think itâs inappropriate for him to do that,â said Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.Â âHe canât even get his facts right.â