Washington (August 17, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, and Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09) today led their colleagues Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), and Jim McGovern (MA-02) in a letter to the federally-owned utility Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) urging them to phase out fossil fuels and transition to a 100-percent clean energy grid by 2035.

“As the country’s largest public power producer, the Tennessee Valley Authority should be leading the nation’s transition to a clean, renewable energy future, not dragging its feet,” the lawmakers wrote. “Yet, TVA continues to rely on fossil fuels that are not only supercharging the climate crisis, but are subjecting TVA customers to electric grid blackouts and energy insecurity. It is long past time for TVA to begin the transition to a renewable and reliable electric grid.”

The lawmakers continued, “It is your duty to lead TVA’s shift from its heavy reliance on fossil fuels to a resilient, safe, and 100-percent clean energy future. In the upcoming Integrated Resource Plan, as well as the new Valley Pathways decarbonization study, TVA will begin the important process of re-evaluating its long-term energy strategy. It is imperative that this strategy include a concrete plan to achieve 100-percent clean energy by 2035 that maximizes distributed renewable energy, energy storage, and energy efficiency, and prioritizes equity and environmental justice. Only in doing so will TVA meet its federal obligation to provide reliable, low-cost, clean electricity and fulfill its purpose as a pioneer for our energy future.”

In April 2022, Senator Markey chaired an EPW subcommittee nomination hearing for TVA Board of Directors and Inspector General nominees, in which the Senator highlighted how TVA has pushed for more fossil fuel energy in the past few decades and stated the importance of TVA’s energy planning for the future.

“In 2023, communities across the Southeastern U.S. have faced extreme heat, disastrous flooding, and so many other climate-driven disasters as a direct result of burning fossil fuels. As one of the nation’s largest power producers, the Tennessee Valley Authority is in a unique position to lead the transition away from fossil fuel energy and toward justly-sourced renewable energy,” said Aaditi Lele, Policy Director at Zero Hour. “For people and the climate, TVA must change course away from fossil fuels.” 

“TVA’s prolonged delay and opposition to energy efficiency and clean energy is not just an environmental issue, it affects real people,” said Daniel Tait, Executive Director at Energy Alabama. “Regular folks in the Valley are struggling to pay their utility bills and worried about whether TVA can keep the lights on like we saw during Winter Storm Elliott. It’s time to move on from expensive and unreliable gas.”

“As the planet boils and families struggle to pay skyrocketing energy bills, our country’s largest public utility should do all it can to fast track a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy,” said Gaby Sarri-Tobar, Energy Justice Campaigner at Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s unacceptable that TVA continues to stymie Biden’s climate goals and burden its millions of customers with hazardous, expensive fossil fuels. We’re in a climate emergency and instead of being a mega-polluter, this mega-utility should be leading the way with clean, resilient and affordable energy.”