Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) CEO Bill Johnson in an exclusive interview with POWER suggested that the power industry continues to face an uncertain future. Johnson said that during his 40-year career, he has seen more change in the last five years than in the previous 35 combined. Several indicators imply that will continue going forward.
According to Johnson, one thing driving change is declining demand for power, which has resulted from efficiency improvements, a shift toward a more-service-oriented economy, and lower population growth, among other things. Johnson said customers are interested in cleaner, more-flexible sources of power and information. The challenge for utilities is to figure out how to integrate new behind-the-meter resources after having focused for so long on big centralized power stations.
Other power industry changes include a shift away from coal-fired generation. Johnson said TVA generated about 60% of its energy from coal 10 years ago, but by the end of the decade that figure will be down to only 20%. TVA has added nuclear capacity and shifted to more gas-fired generation. In addition, solar is now becoming a more viable option for the corporate agency of the federal government.
Johnson was one of three “Thought Leaders,” who spoke and answered questions during the opening day of the ELECTRIC POWER Conference and Exhibition, held in Nashville, Tennessee, in late March. Prior to the event, Johnson sat down with POWER Executive Editor Aaron Larson to offer some insight on happenings at TVA.
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—Aaron Larson, executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)