Long-term contracts between the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and the electro-cooperative companies have limited the ability of these cooperatives to carry out local energy projects and have become a source of growing conflict. As the profitability of renewable energy and energy storage has improved, VAT now faces many of the same problems that Tri-State has faced in recent years. At the time of the publication on 5 May of the financial results for the second quarter of 2020, TVA stated that it had so far signed contracts for 661 MW of solar resources in fiscal year 2020, with projects due to enter service in 2022. They complement the 674 MW solar contracts signed in fiscal year 2019, which are expected to enter service in 2021. In March, VAT submitted a request for a proposal for an additional 200 MW from renewable energy sources, including proposals for renewable energy and battery storage. KUB President Gabriel Bolas called the proposed solar farm agreement and « the direct purchase of renewable energy for our customers. » « As a leading company in the development of low-cost renewable energy, we look forward to working with KUB to bring even more clean energy to the grid for its customers, » said JEFF Lyash, President of TVA. The modification of the contract by TVA was also welcomed by a coalition of companies from the solar, wind and other renewable energy industry. Under the TVA Green Invest programme, Kub will build its own solar facility to meet the renewable energy targets of private companies that want to buy only renewable energy. The program is based on similar agreements reached in 2018 with Facebook and Google, which are buying electricity from the largest new solar parks built so far in Alabama and Tennessee. IN THE PAST, VAT produced all the electricity — mainly hydroelectric, nuclear and some coal — which was then transferred and distributed to local power companies. The new agreement would allow LPCs to reduce the amount they buy from VAT by producing their own generation up to five per cent of average energy demand. Changing the contract for the promotion of solar and renewable energy One of the largest customers of the Tennessee Valley Authority has signed a 20-year electricity contract with the federal supplier and will build another large solar park in East Tennessee.
The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Friends of the Earth and others are pushing VAT distributors to consider buying more renewable electricity from independent solar and wind energy producers and not to continue to rely on VAT. Although TVA generates most of its electricity from non-decarbonized sources, including nuclear and hydroelectric power, only a tiny fraction of its energy today comes from either solar or wind. Tri-State has also repeatedly changed the prices of local renewable energy projects that member cooperatives are allowed to follow in a way that has prevented these projects.