TVA's green power'

Renewable sources

required for long term

California's "rolling blackouts" during the last week focused nationwide attention on America's power-generation capacity, its sources, and power's affordability in the wholesale and retail markets.

TVA, the electric utility for Northeast Mississippi, isn't directly involved in California's power crisis, a direct spin-off of the market phenomenon called "deregulation." However, TVA's directors and its planners are watching California's problems carefully because at the heart of them is a failure to parallel energy consumption with new generating capacity of all kinds.

Daily Journal staff writer Errol Castens reported in Monday's edition about TVA's pilot programs and experiments with "green power" electricity (generated by unconventional sources like wind, steam derived from methane gas firing, and solar conversions). Lafayette County is one of several counties in the region in which some consumers have the option to purchase part of their electricity from "green" sources. The option is called Green Power Switch. "Green" generally is associated with environmentally friendly processes.

TVA's experiments don't produce much power measured against the seven-state system's consumption, but they're important for at last two reasons:

n First, increasing power consumption in the TVA region places the same kind of pressure on the environment as in the American West;

n Second, without research, perfecting "green power" as cost-efficient as hydropower, coal and natural gas isn't likely.

TVA's leaders want to avoid deregulated market crises like California's, and they have the luxury of distance, a little time, and some legal protections. However, good intentions won't generate adequate electricity without working technology.

The longer term view virtually demands power generation on a large scale with sources not now in wide use. Small, independently built plants in places like West Point and Choctaw County will provide TVA added capacity, but theirs will not be green-generated.

TVA's customers need regular reports on the progress of renewable resource electricity and progress toward making it a same-cost alternative or, someday, the main source for at least part of the system's ratepayers.

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