Utility rate increase unknown for East Tennessee with new EPA gu

Utility rate increase unknown for East Tennessee with new EPA guidelines

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TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson told 6 News it is too early to know at this point if your utility bills will go up or not. TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson told 6 News it is too early to know at this point if your utility bills will go up or not.
By CAMERON TAYLOR
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -
The EPA released a new plan Monday to limit the amount of carbon that U.S. power plants can put into the air. It's a long-term effort to improve the environment and fight climate change.

Related story: Obama orders pollution cuts, but timing uncertain

By 2030, the EPA wants to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 30 percent nationwide. In doing so, other air types of air pollution from those plants would drop more than 25-percent. 

With TVA, the nation's largest public power provider, based in Knoxville, 6 News wanted to know what this meant for your utility bills and the quality of the air you breathe.

TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson told 6 News it is too early to know at this point if your utility bills will go up or not. People in the area say they would be willing to shell out a few extra dollars a month, but nothing more than that. 

"I feel like if it's going to be better for the environment, I'm willing to pay the difference. I feel like a cleaner air and lower emissions, it's really important," said Megan Wanzer of Knoxville. 

Others say a significant increase wouldn't work for them. 


"If it was a noticeable difference, we would probably really struggle. We live week to week," said Sheila Smith of Knoxville.  

The Tennessee Valley Authority sells power to utility companies that provide power to people like Wanzer and Smith. In Tennessee, they operate 19 hydroelectric dams, six coal fired power plants, two nuclear power plants, and seven combustion turbine sites among others.

So far TVA officials aren't sure the new proposal will cost their customers more money. 


"I doubt that we will actually lower people's bills. It might have an impact on them some way. What we're hoping is that it will improve quality of life," said Bill Johnson, TVA President and CEO.  

Johnson told 6 News the new EPA guidelines go along with plans they've had in place for the last decade. Since 2005, they've reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent.

Representatives with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy agree TVA is on a good path, but could do more. 

"I think in terms of their renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, those definitely could be more robust and allow for more implementation of energy efficiencies both residential and commercial and industrial," said Angela Garrone of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. 

"I feel like it's great that they're finally getting on board with it to change these rules and regulations," said Wanzer. 

Besides the cost to your utility bills, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy tells us for every dollar spent on this new program, families will see a $7 decrease in their medical bills per year. 

TVA officials also told 6 News they expect their carbon dioxide emissions to be down by 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.



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