TVA Executives Detail Efforts To Create Visibility Tied To EVs, Renewable Energy

December 15, 2021

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
December 15, 2021

Executives with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) recently detailed how TVA is taking steps to create visibility tied to the impact of electric vehicles (EVs) on the power system and EV needs for electricity consumption, as well as where renewable energy resources are being developed.

Laura Duncan, TVA’s Manager for Commercial Energy Solutions, and Drew Frye, TVA’s Manager for Commercial Energy Services, made their comments on Dec. 2 during the American Public Power Association’s Public Power Forward Virtual Summit.

The TVA officials participated in a panel that detailed how utilities locate resources — from customers with EVs to industrial customers with a solar farm — and account for new load from charging stations.

“We have seen an uptick over the last year or so in EV adoption,” Frye said. EV sales in the TVA region have grown by a compound average of 49% annually over the past three years.

“It’s something we’re tracking and understanding what the impacts could be to TVA and the 153 local power companies, munis and cooperatives that distribute TVA’s electricity,” he said.

TVA plans for the future “understanding that there’s a lot of investment going into making electrified vehicles. Pretty much every automaker has committed” to some kind of electrification strategy,” Frye said.

TVA is forecasting more than 200,000 EVs in its service territory by 2028 and 780,000 by 2035, which would add 2% to TVA’s total energy demand.

Smart Charge Nashville Project

Frye offered details on a project called Smart Charge Nashville in an effort to understand the impact of EVs on the power system and their needs for electricity consumption. TVA partnered with public power utility Nashville Electric System (NES), among others.

Under the project, EV drivers were incentived to plug in data loggers into their cars. “That really gave us all of the information off of the vehicle,” he noted.

“We used this project to do kind of a baseline EV load shape for the first year,” Frye said. The second year involved testing out different EV charging load management strategies “to see if we could change charging behaviors and therefore potentially change the impacts for the local distribution system or for TVA for charging requirements.”

As far as what the project discovered in terms of charging patterns, “we learned that almost all charging happens at home – in a garage or in a parking lot. Upwards of eighty percent, depending on what electric vehicle type that they had. And when they had access to charging at work and at home, close to ninety percent of charging happened at those two locations.”

He said that relatively speaking, there was a small amount of charging occurring over the public charging network and even smaller amounts of that charging happening at fast chargers along highways.

As to the time of the day that the electric vehicles charged, Frye said it was “all over the map.” He said that some EVs “were going three days before they charged up again,” while others were charging up every night using a 120-volt charger “which was basically one kilowatt for the whole night.”

Frye said that “what we found out is diversification of charging is really our friend and the peaks of when most electric vehicles are charging simultaneously really start to pop up on high driving days like the day before holidays.”

Meanwhile, Duncan provided details about TVA’s renewable energy efforts. She noted that today, the power that TVA delivers is nearly 60 percent carbon free, which includes nuclear power, “and in the last 20 years we’ve facilitated over 4,000 solar installations and we’ve brought over $2 billion to the Valley through our renewable investments and provided nearly 1.5 million people access to community solar.” These efforts are being done in partnership with local power companies.

“We are planning to add 10,000 megawatts of solar by 2035,” Duncan said.

“One of our key lessons learned in developing and offering renewable programs in a dynamic market is there’s really not a one size fits all solution for customers that are interested in renewable energy,” she noted. “We’ve developed a suite of flexible solutions that will best meet the needs of a wide range of customers.”

TVA’s customers “all of have unique sustainability and carbon goals,” Duncan said. Solutions can include rooftop solar, renewable energy certificate purchase programs, and new solar projects.

“These solutions really facilitate partnerships that help us to further develop future solutions” and help to ensure visibility and coordination on where this renewable energy is being developed “on our system – both for TVA and at the distribution scale for the local power companies.”