KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Valley Authority is hoping to power an economic bounce-back from the pandemic with a $200 million relief credit.

The utility’s board approved a 2.5% credit on wholesale rates for local power companies and industrial customers. The credit will be applied beginning in October and will remain in effect through the end of the fiscal year 2021.

The board also extended TVA’s Back-to-Business credit program, which encourages large customers to resume operations as quickly as possible. To date, about one-third of eligible large customers have benefited from the program, according to the utility.

“The continued impact of this pandemic on our communities is unprecedented and creates continued economic uncertainty,” Jeff Lyash, TVA president and CEO, said. “Because of the TVA team’s strong operational and financial performance under challenging circumstances this past year, we have an opportunity and responsibility to use TVA’s resources and expertise to provide continued support for customers, businesses and communities.”

The news put a charge into Tennessee congressional leaders Rep. Tim Burchett and Sen. Lamar Alexander.

“This rate credit is a good decision during difficult economic times and will put more money in the pockets of East Tennesseans,” Burchett said. “I’m glad to see TVA putting its financial resources to work in the community, and I hope to see more businesses, organizations and individuals pitch in to help out folks who are struggling right now.”

Alexander said the move by TVA “is a lesson for California and its poor energy policy decisions.”  He said Californians are suffering electricity blackouts as electricity prices skyrocket, while TVA cuts rates and provides 99.9 percent reliability.   

“TVA has built two new reactors, and when nuclear is combined with hydropower, 50 percent of TVA power is emission free,” Alexander said. “Twenty-six percent is low emission gas. Three percent is wind and solar. This combination of energy sources has made the valley’s air cleaner and made TVA one of the cleaner utilities in terms of carbon emissions. Most importantly, it fulfills TVA’s mission by federal law: provide large amounts of reliable electricity at a low cost.”

TVA also put another $2 million into a the Community Cares Fund to help groups that support families and businesses most in need. The money will be matched by local power companies and other community groups to benefit local organizations. The fund has provided more than $4.5 million to nearly 300 groups across the Tennessee Valley.