Lack of rain may bump up electric bills - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Lack of rain may bump up electric bills

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Electric rates may heat up this summer due in part to the unusually warm and dry spring. Low streamflows along some stretches of the Tennessee River have placed a minor strain on the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) power sources. 

"We're subject to the rain. How much rain we get determines how much comes into the pools and behind the dams," says Tom Kilgore, TVA President and CEO.

The TVA relies on water to make our power whenever possible. It's called hydroelectricity and it's the cheapest for them to use. But with customers expected to use more electricity in their homes as summer heat settles, TVA may have to make more power from other sources of energy. 

"This year when the flows are low and I have to replace that, then the next cheapest power is nuclear," says Kilgore.

Coal may be used as well, but their overall costs per kilowatt hour won't go up too much.

"I don't even think it would manage a dollar," says Kilgore. "It will be some cents."

But even a slight increase in TVA's fuel or power purchase costs could add a little more to your electric bill for July. This also depends on just how cool you like your home and where in Tennessee you live. For example, with Chattanooga's EPB your bill might go up an average $1.94, according to officials there.

Although consumers in other parts of Tennessee may shell out more, it sometimes comes down to something we can't control. 

"As with everything else, nature takes its course," explains Kilgore. "The good lord didn't send rain in all the places equally."

The bottom line is TVA could use more wet weather in spots to counteract the hot summer temperatures. This may keep a little more money in your pocket for any rainy days ahead. 

"Eventually, every dollar we don't spend goes back to the consumer," says Kilgore.

Even though fuel costs have risen from last month, they've decreased overall from a year ago. Kilgore says even in droughts the TVA maintains minimum flows in order to manage ecosystems. 

He also offers a general tip for saving on your cooling bill: adjust/program your thermostat to cool your home as much as possible at night rather than during daytime peak heating hours.

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