Legal petition calls on Tennessee Valley Authority to stop power cuts, fund debt relief
WASHINGTON – Dozens of climate justice organizations petitioned the Tennessee Valley Authority today to immediately impose a moratorium on power cuts in the region and to fund debt relief for its customers.
The petition also calls on the large utility company to accelerate the valley’s clean energy transition to address the worsening crises of unemployment, climate and racial injustice linked to COVID-19.
“TVA has the responsibility and the money to keep people from suffering needlessly and taking on needless debt,” said Howard Crystal, legal director of the energy justice program at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The company can seize this opportunity to truly serve the public interest and become a role model for other utility companies. TVA must recognize the environmental damage caused by its dirty energy choices and chart a new course towards a clean and democratic energy future. “
Congress has yet to impose a federal moratorium on utility cuts, leaving thousands of families in TVA’s service territory at risk of losing electricity during a summer of record-breaking climate-induced heat waves.
“In the face of a health, environmental and economic crisis unprecedented since the Great Depression, we call on TVA to return to its original mission of improving the quality of life here in the Tennessee Valley,” said Brianna Knisley, coordinator of the Tennessee countryside. with the voices of the Appalachians. “TVA can and should protect vulnerable communities from power cuts, eliminate unnecessary and harmful production of coal ash and create new public jobs in the valley. At the very least, our public service should reach out to communities to better understand their problems and needs in these critical times. “
The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated unemployment crisis have caused severe economic tensions in the Southeast, a region where low-income communities, black communities and other communities of color are already severely affected. disproportionate by pollution, high energy bills and utility cuts.
“If TVA wants to take reducing the burden of COVID-19 on valley residents seriously, it’s time for TVA to take strong energy efficiency and renewable energy programs seriously, especially for customers at low income, ”said Daniel Tait, COO of Energy Alabama.
The petition urges TVA to reallocate its vast resources to help customers pay their bills and fund a fair economic recovery through clean energy and efficiency programs. This would require a series of public hearings, which the petition says should begin as soon as possible.
“In the midst of the pandemic, when people are unemployed and without basic needs like electricity, food, water and broadband services, TVA has a responsibility to support its customers by instituting a moratorium on cuts to public services, thus respecting its initial mission. to serve the people of the Tennessee Valley, ”said Isabella Killius of Sunrise Tennessee. “This petition sums up the need for an institutional change within the TVA so that customers receive adequate relief and, furthermore, that the necessary measures are taken to alleviate the ongoing climate crisis.”
TVA has the funding and the mandate to ease residential customer debt, quickly phase out its fossil fuel infrastructure, and invest in clean and distributed energy and energy efficiency efforts. These efforts will help create local jobs essential to the region’s economic recovery.
The petition is named after Sr. David Freeman, former chairman of the board of directors of TVA and a tireless advocate for renewable energies. The self-proclaimed “green cowboy,” who died in May, had long sought to free people from the polluting and centralized power of VAT.
TVA is a federal corporation and the country’s largest electricity supplier. It produces electricity for more than 9 million customers in Tennessee, northern Alabama, northeastern Mississippi, southwestern Kentucky, and parts of northern Georgia, western from North Carolina and southwestern Virginia.