TVA: Heavy rains can be a good thing for power rates - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

TVA: Heavy rains can be a good thing for power rates

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- The heavy rains will keep workers at TVA very busy, as they monitor 29 hydro-generating plants across the state. While many are not looking forward to a rainy weekend, all the extra river water has a direct impact on power rates.

Chattanooga TVA officials are working very closely with river forecasters up in Knoxville, keeping an eye on the water levels. Believe it or not, all of the excess water might not be a bad thing.

"In an event like this, they'll pretty much run wide open," says Phillip Wiginton with TVA.

Spill gates at TVA's Chickamauga Dam already have plenty of water rushing through them and even more is coming.

"When we get a weather event, the way it affects us in the hydro-fleet, is it tends to increase the amount of hydro-generation we get," says Wiginton.

Translation: more power. Wiginton works in the TVA systems operations center in Chattanooga, which monitors that extra power. When heavy rain hits, the center works very closely with TVA forecasters in Knoxville.

"It's a lot bigger of an issue for the folks up in Knoxville at our river forecast center. They've got to move that water. So they're already spilling at lot of the facilities on the river already."

It comes down to a balance of nature and economics.

"More hydro is a good thing, because hydro energy is very cheap," says Wiginton.

As the excess water generates more power, rates go down.

TVA officials say the milder weather and above average rainfall since the beginning of the year have kept costs down. In February, rates were cut by more than 3 percent. Customers saw a drop close to $3.50 per month.

"As they see more and more rain, we see more and more generation in the off-peak hours. So we have to start adjusting generation in the rest of the fleet," says Wiginton.

TVA is already taking some coal power units offline because of the rain. Bottom line, TVA's happy to let Mother Nature work over time.

"We try to put as much of that generation in our high cost hours as we can."

TVA says it will continue to monitor the water levels very closely throughout the weekend. They will also continue to release water from the dam as necessary.

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