AP

Judge dismisses lawsuit over US utility’s long-term deals

Feb 2, 2023, 4:56 PM | Updated: 5:01 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by environmental groups that challenged how the nation’s largest public utility signs up local power providers for two-decade contracts.

On Wednesday, a ruling by U.S. District Judge Thomas L. Parker in Memphis sided with the Tennessee Valley Authority, agreeing that the environmental groups don’t have legal standing. The judge also found that TVA “acted reasonably” under a law requiring it as a federal agency to assess environmental effects of major projects before making decisions.

The lawsuit filed in August 2020 argued that 20-year deals signed by most of TVA’s customers lock the power distributors into exclusive contracts with the TVA and “will forever deprive distributors and ratepayers the opportunity to renegotiate with TVA to obtain cheaper, cleaner electricity,” according to the Southern Environmental Law Center, which filed the suit for three plaintiff groups.

The judge, however, agreed with TVA that the groups — Protect Our Aquifer, Energy Alabama and Appalachian Voices — have no standing to sue for a variety of reasons, saying in part that they “have not shown a particularized, imminent environmental injury.”

Additionally, Parker wrote that TVA did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act, either. The law “does not require review of every major federal action,” but only those closely related to causing environmental changes, the judge said.

The judge wrote that the environmental groups’ arguments are resolvable by congressional lawmakers, not the court system.

TVA commended the decision, saying 147 of 153 local power companies have signed long-term agreements, while arguing they help keep TVA’s power affordable, reliable and resilient.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision which affirms that TVA followed the law in offering the long-term agreement to local power company customers,” TVA spokesperson Scott Brooks said in a statement.

The Southern Environmental Law Center, meanwhile, said it is evaluating its legal options after the ruling.

“We are disappointed the court ruled against this challenge to TVA’s never-ending contracts,” Amanda Garcia, the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Tennessee office director, said in a statement. “These highly restrictive contracts make it essentially impossible for TVA customers to have meaningful negotiations with the federal utility.”

The issue has sprung up prominently in Memphis, Tennessee. The utility company there announced in December that it rejected a 20-year contract with TVA, but will remain the power provider’s largest customer for the “foreseeable future.” It stuck with its five-year rolling contract.

The environmental groups argued that the deals hurt the ability of local power companies to seek out and use renewable power such as solar energy from sources outside the TVA. The deals replaced existing agreements of varying lengths, or followed expiring ones. Contracts require a 20-year notice to terminate, and they renew each year.

Garcia has argued that the notice-to-terminate provision made the contracts “never-ending,” and violate TVA’s own rules that its contracts with power companies should not last longer than 20 years. The deals carry a 3.1% monthly rebate on wholesale power rates that local companies could pass on to their customers, or use to invest in infrastructure, TVA has said.

The deals also allow local power companies to seek up to 5% in acquired renewable energy, which TVA says could help them meet their energy needs. But the groups say that percentage is too limiting.

TVA provides power to millions of people in parts of Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona doctors California abortions...

Associated Press

Arizona doctors can come to California to perform abortions under new law signed by Gov. Newsom

Arizona doctors can temporarily come to California to perform abortions for their patients under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

8 hours ago

Father convicted of first-degree murder in northern Arizona...

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

A northern Arizona father was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son.

10 hours ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in a courtroom next to his lawyer Todd Blanche before the start ...

Associated Press

Trump hush money trial enters new phase after defense rests without testimony from former president

Donald Trump's hush money trial is now closer to the moment when the jury will begin deciding the former president's fate.

2 days ago

UoA student convicted of first-degree murder after killing professor...

Associated Press

Former Arizona grad student convicted of first-degree murder in 2022 shooting of professor

A former University of Arizona grad student was convicted of first-degree murder after fatally shooting a professor on campus two years ago.

2 days ago

Rudy Giuliani bankruptcy filing defamation lawsuit...

Associated Press

Ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Arizona’s Kelli Ward plead not guilty in fake elector case

Giuliani appeared remotely for the arraignment that was held in a Phoenix courtroom. His trial will take place in October.

3 days ago

President Joe Biden gestures after speaking to graduating students at the Morehouse College commenc...

Associated Press

Biden tells Morehouse graduates that scenes in Gaza from the Israel-Hamas war break his heart, too

Joe Biden on Sunday offered his most direct recognition of U.S. students' anguish over the Israel-Hamas war.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Judge dismisses lawsuit over US utility’s long-term deals