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TVA completes uprate at Browns Ferry nuclear plant; CEO emphasizes solar focus

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TVA completes uprate at Browns Ferry nuclear plant; CEO emphasizes solar focus

The Tennessee Valley Authority has completed its upgrade of the Browns Ferry nuclear plant that added 465 MW to that facility's output, TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash said Aug. 2 during the company's fiscal third-quarter earnings call.

The third phase of the uprates "is complete now so all three Browns Ferry units are at their maximum power level," Lyash said. "It's going to pay dividends for our customers for a long time."

Lyash reiterated the authority's goal to expand solar power supplies in the face of changing customer expectations and to advance its efforts to lower emissions. TVA's proposed 2019 integrated resource plan, which the federal government-owned utility's board is slated to vote on at its Aug. 22 meeting, outlined a goal of expanding solar capacity by between 1,500 MW and 8,000 MW by 2028 and by up to 14,000 MW by 2038.

Lyash explained that TVA is focusing on solar because it is the most cost-effective option. "What we're working toward here [is] satisfying some of the objectives the citizens of the Valley have set for us," he said, "But doing it in a way that doesn't add to their bill."

Lyash also indicated the authority is keeping its options open for potentially building new nuclear units in the future, including small nuclear reactors depending on how the nation's economy develops, how customer usage changes and the extent to which carbon regulations evolve.

TVA reported fiscal third-quarter 2019 net income of $165.0 million, down sharply from $470.0 million in the same quarter of fiscal 2018. During the call, Executive Vice President and CFO John Thomas largely focused on the nine-month performance of the company.

But the company's quarterly 10-Q filing with the SEC on Aug. 2 indicated sales of electricity decreased approximately 5% over the quarter as compared to the same period in 2018 and operating revenues decreased by $103 million as TVA relied more on low-carbon power supplies. TVA's nuclear power supplies increased by 5%, and power supplies from purchased renewable power generation were also up by 11% over the third quarter of 2018.

TVA's operating and maintenance expenses increased $141 million, largely driven by an increase of $108 million due to accelerated recovery of the regulatory asset for coal ash cleanup costs and $25 million for project write-offs and materials and supplies inventory reserves related to the anticipated retirements of the coal-fired Bull Run and Paradise power plants.