Above average rainfall kept Tennessee Valley Authority dams running full-throttle throughout the summer.
When it gets hot and dry, TVA has to stop releasing water along the Tennessee River system in order to make sure lakes stay high enough for navigation. But not this year. The fiscal period that ended this week broke the previous record for hydropower generation set in 1973.
There was enough electricity produced just by the rivers to power 1.2 million homes for an entire year – 18.5 megawatt hours.
TVA officials say hydropower is their cheapest form of energy. Vice president for river operations John McCormick says the river power lowered fuel costs for customers.
The historic power utility got its start damming up rivers, but hydro now only makes up 8-10 percent of TVA’s power portfolio, behind, coal nuclear and natural gas. This year it was 13 percent of the mix.