By Craven Crowell
By Craven Crowell
Ridge and TVA: A Partnership for Technology and Development
by Craven Crowell, Chairman
Tennessee Valley Authority
to the Oak Ridge Rotary Club
August 26, 1999 -- Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Thank you, John (Verble),
for that kind introduction. It's a pleasure to be with all of you today
and to be back in Oak Ridge. TVA has a long history in Oak Ridge, of course,
and it's a history we're all very proud of.
When the government called on TVA and the Oak Ridge community to help
win the war back in the 1940s, both TVA and this community responded with
an almost superhuman commitment. Scientists came to Oak Ridge for the
Manhattan Project, and engineers from TVA figured out how to provide the
massive amount of electricity they'd need to develop the atomic bomb.
Tom Brokaw, the anchorman, says in his new book that the men and women
who did these things were part of "the greatest generation."
When you look at what people accomplished here, it's hard to disagree.
After Pearl Harbor, for example, work was started on Douglas Dam, and
the project was completed in only 13 months. But Douglas, alone, couldn't
supply the power that was needed.
New defense industries sprang up to produce processed metals, food, fibers
and chemicals -- all for the war effort -- and TVA quickly began work
on nine new dams to generate hydroelectric power. Factories were built
almost overnight to produce airplanes, boilers for ships, gas masks and
explosives, and TVA -- using both hydro, and a newly-constructed coal-fired
steam plant -- met this growing energy demand. World War II was a good
example of the many ways our society -- and great public power companies
like TVA -- can respond to new circumstances and meet new challenges.
Circumstances have changed dramatically since the 1940s. But I like to
think we are still as responsive and as capable as that "greatest
generation" that built the Bomb and won the war. Our challenge today
is to meet the demands of the great social and economic transformation
that is remaking America at the turn of the century.
This transformation is creating what some theorists refer to as a "knowledge-based
economy" and "the information age." This "society-in-the-making"
is one that values technology and its applications. It values the
research that's at the heart of technological development, and ladies
and gentlemen, just as we worked together to meet the extraordinary challenges
of war fifty years ago, I'm confident that TVA, Oak Ridge, and communities
throughout the Tennessee Valley will be partners in meeting the new challenges
of the 21st century.
THE ROLE OF ELECTRICITY IN SUPPORTING TECHNOLOGY
On a global level, the Electric Power Research Institute is in the business
of mapping the future for utilities around the world. One area that EPRI
is studying is the role of electricity in the future of the global economy.
The U.S. and other developed nations became economic powerhouses by first
becoming industrial powerhouses.
But the industrial revolution of the past is giving way to the information
revolution of the future. Until recently the world's most prosperous nations
ran primarily on oil and its byproducts. Today, however, the road to economic
prosperity is lined with microchips.
Our future strength as a nation will depend on information technology,
and reliable, affordable electricity to run it. Only electricity offers
the precision and flexibility to be the backbone of an information-based
economy. As our dependence on technology grows, so does our reliance on
In 1970 electricity accounted for 25 percent of the energy used in the
United States. It now accounts for 40 percent, and climbing. Electricity-based
information technology now accounts for more than 50 percent of economic
growth in the U.S. and other Western nations.
As a result, our energy reserves are dwindling. Furthermore, weaknesses
in the nation's power transmission systems limit the ability to move large
quantities of power from one region to another. As our nation becomes
ever-more dependent on technology and the electricity it requires, we
must increase both:
- Our capacity for generating
- Our capacity for moving
power to regions where shortages may be experienced.
ELECTRICITY'S ROLE IN THE
As we look to ensuring that your needs are met, electric utilities around
the world must also consider the long-term energy needs of a global population,
which now stands at 6.2 billion. That figure is expected to reach 8 billion
in 20 years, and double by the Year 2100. To put that population growth
in perspective, it took thousands of years for the world population to
reach one billion.
That was in 1500. Between 1850 and the early part of this century, the
population reached two billion. In just the past 50 years, that figure
tripled, to 6 billion, and in the brief period of two decades, the world
population will increase by another two billion!
Ninety percent of that growth will take place in the world's poorest nations,
where electricity is often lacking. To become economically self-sufficient,
developing nations are going to need a lot more energy. Over the next
50 years world-wide demand for energy is expected to double.
As developing nations struggle to build their economies and meet energy
needs, we should not expect them to follow the Western model of industrialization.
First, there isn't enough fossil fuel left to support heavy industrialization
on a global scale. World petroleum production is expected to peak early
in the next century and then rapidly decline as viable reserves are depleted.
Second, we're reaching the limits of what our planet can withstand from
the environmental consequences of burning carbon-based fuels. Emerging
nations must therefore develop energy sources that are more benign than
those that we in the West relied upon, and developing nations must build
economies based on technology and information, as nations on the Pacific
Rim already have done. Electricity is clearly the energy of choice that
meets both these important needs
As pioneers and leaders in the production of electricity, I believe utilities
in developed countries have an obligation to share with developing nations
our guidance and expertise in electricity production, if only for selfish
reasons. As the proverb says, give people fish and you feed them for a
day. Teach them to fish and they will feed themselves for a lifetime.
SERVING THE PUBLIC GOOD
It's that kind of thinking that was behind the creation of the Tennessee
Valley Authority more than six decades ago, and it's the philosophy that
continues to guide our efforts as an advocate for the public good. We
recognize how information and technology are blurring international boundaries,
especially for commerce and trade, and we recognize the important role
electricity will play as emerging nations take their place in the global
family of nations. Here at home, as America's own capacity needs become
a focus of discussion, TVA's role as an agent for the public good will
be an important advantage for the Valley.
Unlike private utilities, we can and we must take a more
visionary view of the long-term energy needs of our region, and the world.
We must make decisions that serve the greater good, even when the near-term
economic benefits may not be readily apparent. That's what sets TVA apart
from other utilities.
Unlike them, we have a mandate to serve the public good, not just the
bottom line, and the public good here in Oak Ridge means ensuring that
your power needs will always be met, reliably and affordably. TVA is one
of the few U.S. utilities that are adding new capacity. Given regional
demand growth of four percent a year, we need to grow our capacity by
about a thousand megawatts a year.
Over the past six years we've added about 4,000 megawatts of generation.
In the next several years, we're planning to add another 2,300 megawatts.
Through improvements to our existing equipment, we're squeezing out incremental
increases that are helping us get more power out of the assets we already
In recent weeks, we've had a dramatic demonstration of the value of these
additions to our generation. In a 10-day period in July, we exceeded TVA's
previous all-time record for peak demand eight times and set four new
records for generation. The highest peak was 28,295 megawatts on July
That was the second consecutive day that power demand topped the 28,000-megawatt
mark, which was a new benchmark for us. In all, this summer TVA's power
system has meet 16 peak power demands higher than the previous
record, set a year ago. Naturally, the employees of deserve the credit
for the excellent work they've done to keep our system operating at peak
efficiency, and in the next few months we at TVA are going to be looking
at our future plans for adding more generation.
It's our goal to make sure our planning is prudent for the energy needs
of the Valley.
For our part, TVA will continue to be an active partner with you in promoting
economic growth. As the old saying goes, when the tide comes in, all the
ships rise, and when investments in our region grow, more jobs are created
that allow your sons and daughters to find quality jobs here at home.
TVA and the distributors of TVA power are proud to work with and support
We are committed to the economic growth of this area and to our partnerships
with you. We must set our sights on the future, and continue on the visionary
course of ensuring long-term economic opportunities for our children.
In so doing, we'll ensure an even better quality of life for everyone
in the Tennessee Valley..
is Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority
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