WASHINGTON -- Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander and Rep. Stephen Fincher are questioning a possible Tennessee Valley Authority purchase of wind-generated electricity from Oklahoma.
Alexander and Fincher, R-Frog Jump, sent a letter Wednesday to Bill Johnson, chief executive officer of the TVA, expressing concern about the agency possibly buying wind power from Clean Line Energy Partners in Oklahoma and transporting it 700 miles to Memphis.
"When evaluating Clean Line Energy Partners' proposal, we hope that TVA will first consider whether TVA needs additional generation capacity and then determine the best option to produce clean, cheap, and reliable electricity for ratepayers in the TVA region," the two lawmakers wrote.
Alexander is a longstanding opponent of federal tax credits that benefit wind power.
Details of the proposed deal were unavailable.
Among other things, the senator and representative asked whether:
-- The purchase of power from that distance would increase security threats to the TVA system.
-- TVA customers would be hit with a rate increase if Congress this year fails to renew the wind-power tax credit. They said the tax break faces "strong opposition."
-- Wind power, generated mostly at night, would benefit TVA when its peak demand for electricity is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
-- TVA has compared the cost of wind to other types of additional power.
-- The deal would affect Tennessee property owners through eminent-domain proceedings, in which government agencies buy land for needed improvements.
-- TVA has changed its September 2013 position that reduced electricity demand made additional power unnecessary.
"I'm particularly concerned about any possible use of eminent domain in order to complete this project, and the impact on energy costs this would have on citizens of West Tennessee," Fincher said in a statement.
Alexander added it is "the responsibility of members of Congress to provide oversight to TVA policies, and these questions are part of that oversight."
In response, TVA officials said they would carefully evaluate the economics of the Clean Line proposal.
"TVA is committed to using multiple sources, including renewable energy, as part of our future supply," the agency said in a statement.
TVA's priorities, it added, are "low-cost, reliable, and environmentally responsible energy generation."