Description: Challenge to long-term contracts for electricity between Tennessee Valley Authority and local utilities.
Protect Our Aquifer v. Tennessee Valley Authority
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 02/01/2023 Order Download Summary judgment granted to defendant. Tennessee Federal Court Rejected Challenge to TVA Long-Term Contract Provisions. The federal district court for the Western District of Tennessee rejected arguments that the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) failed to comply with NEPA when it incorporated certain provisions into its long-term contracts with local power companies. The provisions at issue were (1) “long-term” provisions that the plaintiffs said would enable a “never-ending contract” at odds with the maximum 20-year term authorized by the TVA Act and (2) “flexibility” provisions that would permit the local power companies to self-generate a percentage of their energy. The court found that there were two categorical exclusions that could support TVA’s decision not to conduct NEPA review of the long-term provisions. Moreover, the court found that the long-term provisions did not have a reasonably close causal relationship to the alleged environmental impacts, which included global warming. The court also was convinced by arguments that the long-term provisions did not guide planning for TVA’s generation portfolio mix and further found that TVA complied with NEPA by producing an EIS for the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan that accounted for TVA’s resource portfolio. The court also rejected the argument that TVA failed to prepare its environmental assessment regarding the flexibility provisions until after it had already contracted with the local power companies to include the provisions. The court also granted summary judgment to TVA on a claim under the TVA Act, holding that the three environmental groups that brought the suit did not have associational or organizational standing. With respect to associational standing, the court found that the groups’ members did not allege particularized, imminent environmental injuries. The court also found that the members’ alleged economic injuries—which included “paying more for dirtier energy” and diminished value of private solar power systems—did not provide a basis for standing. 08/12/2021 Order Download Motion to dismiss denied. Tennessee Federal Court Allowed Conservation Groups to Proceed with Challenge to TVA Long-Term Contracts. The federal district court for the Western District of Tennessee denied the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA’s) motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging long-term contracts for electricity between TVA and local utilities. The court concluded that the plaintiffs—three conservation groups—had standing for their claims under the TVA Act of 1933 and NEPA, and also that the court had the authority to review whether the long-term contracts violated the TVA Act. The plaintiffs’ allegations include that the long-term agreements will result in greater emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants because insulation from a competitive market will constrain development of renewable energy. The complaint also alleges that the long-term agreements are likely to result in increased energy consumption and will therefore exacerbate greenhouse gas emissions and other impacts. 08/17/2020 Complaint Download Complaint filed.