October 28, 2019 Home
When you think of TVA, what comes to mind?
There’s a TVA boat ramp off highway 31 west of Sneedville. There are TVA boat ramps and fishing piers on Cherokee Lake and Norris Lake. These lake levels are maintained by TVA. Many people know the two TVA towers in downtown Knoxville (only one of which TVA uses these days). You may remember that in December 2008, an earthen dike at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant broke, spreading one billion gallons of wet coal ash across 300 acres of land and into the tributaries of the Tennessee River. (See below *)
But did you think that every time you use electricity, you are using power provided by TVA to Powell Valley Electric Cooperative (PVEC). Your monthly member bill is based in large part on the rate that TVA charges to its 170 distributors, including rural electric cooperatives in most of Tennessee, parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky, and small slices of Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia.
TVA was created by Congress on May 18, 1933, to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing, and economic development to the Tennessee Valley. Though it is a federal corporation, it receives no tax dollars. Its primary source of income is from electricity users in the Tennessee Valley.
Recently congressional eyes have been focused on TVA, due to its $25 billion debt, mostly due to not completing construction of nuclear power plants. Also, see two notes below. ** Congressman Tim Burchett of Knoxville has introduced a bill requiring TVA committee meetings be open to the public to make the organization more transparent.
TVA provides electricity to ten million people through nuclear, coal-fired, natural gas-fired, hydroelectric, and renewable generation. TVA provides flood control with 29 hydroelectric dams, which allow for recreational activities, and provides navigation and land management along rivers within its region of operation. TVA also assists governments and private companies on economic development projects.
TVA’s rates change slightly from month to month. A recent program of TVA encourages power utilities, such as PVEC, to sign 20 year rather than 15 year contracts. By doing so, TVA offers a small price reduction. Recently, some of TVA’s utility customers, including Memphis Gas, Light, and Water, have been exploring other energy sources besides TVA in hopes of providing lower cost power to its many customers.
Some TVA factoids:
- Repair to that damage is still ongoing “More than 30 cleanup workers at the December 2008 TVA Kingston Fossil Fuel Power Plant coal ash spill are dead and at least 200 are sick or dying — all with common ailments known to be caused by long-term exposure to arsenic, radium and the host of other toxins and metals found in the ash.” (Knoxville News Sentinel, September 20, 2018)
** “TVA’s top executives all got big raises for the federal fiscal year which ended Sept. 30, 2018 with President and CEO Bill Johnson — already the nation’s highest-paid federal employee — leading the pack at a total $8.1 million. That includes $1.1 million in base pay.” (Knoxville News Sentinel, November 15, 2018)
** “TVA spent an estimated $40 million in rate-payer-funds on luxury aviation vehicles, including two jets and a specialty Mercedes-Benz helicopter with hardwood floors and wood paneling, according to an environmental advocacy group.” (Daily Caller News, February 1, 2018)
Everyone needs to learn more about our electric cooperative. For more information, go to pve.coop.
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