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Corporate Responsibility Report

Sustainability is in Our DNA

It’s the way we’ve always done business. It’s part of who we are. It’s part of our DNA.


There are examples of TVA’s sustainable efforts throughout the TVA website. This Corporate Responsibility website highlights TVA’s sustainability efforts within its corporate culture as well as within five key areas of responsibility:

Affordable Energy — Keeping the Valley Glowing

TVA has always exhibited the ability to adapt to best meet the Valley’s needs and no better example exists than the evolution of TVA’s power generation. In the 1930s and early 1940s, TVA’s power was generated solely from hydroelectric dams. In the late-1940s, TVA added coal generation to meet the increasing electrical demand of a growing region. Over the years, TVA further assessed the long-term electrical demands of the Valley and added other energy sources, including nuclear, natural gas, wind, solar and biofuels.

TVA  adopted a corporate vision and Integrated Resource Plan to support a strategic shift to a cleaner, more efficient and even more diverse generating portfolio, including:

  • Investing in additional clean-air controls
  • Idling or retiring aging coal units
  • Increasing generation from nuclear and renewables
  • Promoting energy efficiency and demand response
  • Exploring and embracing effective new technologies


  • Hydro and other Renewables
  • Nuclear
  • Fossil (Coal and Gas)
  • Transmission

Hydro and other Renewables

""TVA defines renewable energy as energy production that is sustainable and generally replenished naturally, such as solar, wind, biomass, and hydro. TVA is increasing renewable power in its generation mix. The increase will reduce emission rates and continue to improve regional air quality. Hydroelectric power is TVA’s largest renewable generation source.

In FY2013 a total of 18.2 Billion kWh was produced from TVA Dams hydroelectric dams, more than any other year. We operate a total of 29 conventional hydroelectric dams throughout the Tennessee River System and one pumped-storage facility for the production of electricity. We are continuing to improve our existing hydro assets to increase capacity and efficiency while maintaining the long-term reliability of our generating units. Since 1992, projects at 55 hydro units and four pumped-storage units have been completed, resulting in 422 MW of increased capacity. TVA’s other renewable sources include a diverse mix of wind, solar, biomass co-firing, dedicated biomass energy generation, and landfill gas-to-energy generation.

TVA is implementing an array of programs for homes, businesses, and industry that are offered in partnership with 155 local power companies, including the Green Power Switch program which supports the production of renewable energy through consumer purchases. TVA is also securing power purchases for renewable energy through its Renewable Standard Offer and Solar Solutions Initiative. TVA developed the Southeast’s first wind power site and built more than a dozen solar sites and a methane gas co-firing site, all within the TVA region.


""TVA’s vision is to lead the Tennessee Valley region and the nation toward a cleaner and more secure energy future, relying more on nuclear power and energy efficiency and less on coal.

Nuclear power, which became an important part of TVA’s electricity-generating portfolio in 1974, provides safe, clean, reliable and affordable power. Today, nuclear power generation is one of TVA’s six strategic focus areas.

Through the addition of nuclear capacity, such as the restart of Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant Unit 1 in 2005 and future completion of Watts Bar Nuclear Plant Unit 2, TVA is striving to achieve its vision of low-cost, cleaner energy and improving the quality of life for those in the Valley.

We are incorporating lessons learned from the nuclear accident in Japan into the operation, design and emergency features of nuclear facilities under construction and projects under consideration. TVA continually examines its nuclear safety programs and works closely with industry and regulators to do what it takes to keep our facilities safe.

Fossil (Coal and Gas)

""TVA’s fossil-fuel power generation is at the core of TVA’s mission and a prime example of its commitment to sustainability. In FY2013, TVA’s coal-fired and combustion-turbine units produced about 75.6 billion kWh of electricity, accounting for about 53 percent of TVA’s power supply from TVA-operated facilities, in fiscal year 2012.

Since the 1940’s, fossil-fuel power generation has helped to meet the needs and enhance economic development in the Tennessee Valley. Today, TVA’s diverse fossil portfolio hedges against future uncertainties such as fuel prices, risk and regulation. Fossil power generation enables TVA to effectively adapt to constantly changing demand while keeping rates low.

Sustainability has always been at the heart of TVA’s fossil-fuel initiatives. For example, in the 1940s TVA was among the first to use emission controls to remove particulate from flue gas and improve air quality at coal-fired plants. Today, TVA continues to develop and implement technologies to generate cleaner energy. As the fossil fleet ages, TVA may choose to idle or retire some units in lieu of investing in additional controls and either construct replacement generation or invest in transmission upgrades to maintain reliability for its customers.


""TVA owns and operates one of the largest and most reliable transmission systems in North America, serving more than nine million people in an 80,000 square mile area spanning portions of seven states. TVA’s transmission system moves electric power from the generating plants to local power companies and to industrial and federal customers across the region.

The TVA power system has delivered 99.999 percent reliability to customers for 14 consecutive years.

Reliable power is necessary for quality of life and for a healthy economy through business retention and expansion. It also is essential to public safety through enabling information and security systems and public welfare through hospitals, food safety, and heating/cooling systems.

TVA is using sustainable technological advancements such as “Smart Grid” to help manage system electricity load and enhance reliability. Right-of-Way maintenance is performed to ensure reliability according to industry standards, and TVA uses integrated vegetation management to enhance habitats for wildlife.

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Economic Development — Keeping the Valley Growing

The Agency’s founding purpose was to help improve and sustain the prosperity of the Tennessee Valley. And sustain it did, and still does. During the Great Depression, TVA not only provided jobs but also helped power burgeoning industries, transforming the Valley by bringing more economic activity to the region. Today, improving the region’s economy remains a founding tenet of TVA’s multifaceted mission.

""The Agency supports local economies in the region through economic development efforts that increase capital investment and jobs growth.

By offering financial, technical and community development services to targeted markets in rural and urban areas, TVA has contributed greatly to the economic health of the Valley. In 2013, TVA provided state and local governments in the Valley with $548 million in tax-equivalent payments that help communities support local education and other vital needs.

In addition, in 2012 TVA directly purchased $3.8 billion in goods and services (excluding coal), $2.9 billion of which was provided by businesses in the Tennessee Valley.

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Environmental Stewardship — Keeping the Land Going

""TVA manages hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands and waters for recreation, cultural and natural resource protection. These lands also are the foundation for the dams and reservoirs that protect the region from flooding, provide navigable waterways, and low-cost hydroelectricity.

As the steward of these critically important resources, TVA has a duty to manage these public assets wisely for present and future generations. TVA developed the Natural Resource Plan to guide its  stewardship efforts. The plan addresses TVA’s management of biological, cultural and water resources, recreation facilities, reservoir land planning, and public engagement. The plan analyzes TVA’s current activities, goals for improving current programs and beginning new ones, and the benefits associated with the implementation of programs in the resource areas.

Some of the key activities covered under TVA’s Natural Resource Plan are:

  • Ensuring continued biodiversity and habitat protection in the Tennessee Valley
  • Managing nearly 12,000 archaeological sites on TVA public lands
  • Promoting water quality and aquatic habitat improvements across the Tennessee River watershed
  • Operating approximately 80 public recreation areas for boating, fishing, hunting, and camping
  • Developing comprehensive plans for the management of public land around each TVA reservoir
  • Partnering with public agencies and stakeholders in shared stewardship of Valley resources.

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Integrated River Management — Keeping the River Flowing

TVA is responsible for the integrated management of the Tennessee River System, which provides the Valley with power generation, water supply, recreation opportunities, aquatic and terrestrial habitat, and floodplain management. The system allows for the annual transport of more than 50 million tons of cargo through a series of dams and navigation locks owned and operated by TVA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers consisting. Further, TVA maintains reservoir and tailwater water quality through the maintenance of minimum flow and dissolved oxygen levels.

TVA’s sustainable approach to river management is critical to the region by:

  • Enhancing river transport of goods to reduce shipping costs for consumers
  • Providing drinking water for about 4.7 million people
  • Providing a reliable water supply for power generation, industry and irrigation
  • Helping provide for recreation by managing water levels
  • Reducing 2013 annual transportation cost of goods shipped by $550 million
  • Providing flood control, including avoiding $800 million in flood damage in 2013

See metrics


Technology Innovation — Leading the Way

small modular reactorTechnology is a key factor in TVA’s ability to fulfill its mission in a balanced way. TVA continues to pursue technological advances to become more efficient and sustainable. As part of its mission under the TVA Act, the agency is called upon to be a leader in Technology Innovation.

Historically, TVA partnered with other federal agencies, such as the Department of Energy, and research institutions to create leading-edge innovations. TVA created potent fertilizers in the 1930s to help revive the depleted soil in the Valley. In the 1940s, it was the first power company to install controls to reduce particle emissions in coal-fired units. In the 1950s, TVA installed the first reversible pump-turbine for storing electrical energy at Hiwassee Dam Unit 2. TVA further developed the innovative concept of pumped storage, which entails pumping water to the reservoir during periods of low demand and releasing water for generation during periods of high demand, with construction of Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Plant in the 1970s.

Currently, TVA has identified three signature technologies for special emphasis:

  • Small Modular Reactors, which are designed to provide clean “base load” energy with less construction time, less cost with improved safety and security.
  • Grid Modernization (“Smart Grid”), which is evolving with numerous technological possibilities to enhance power grid efficiency and reliability.
  • Energy Utilization, including energy efficiency and demand response to support load management and reliability and to help customers save money.





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