TVA -some mysterious deal making

TVA – some mysterious deal making

November 28, 2015


When it was first made public, Google had closed the deal with TVA. Government entities in north Alabama (mayors, councilmen, etc.) were sworn to secrecy; the cone of silence had to be in place. After all, giant Google with more power and influence than a 600 million dollar data warehouse in remote Stevenson, AL was the object, the pot of gold for north Alabama.


And after months of secret negotiations involving “hundreds” of federal TVA employees, (apparently they were sworn to secrecy too,) there was much jubilation, hooraying, and back slapping in celebration of the deal made with Google. Was it legal? Was TVA just showing how opaque it could be? In fact it is not right for TVA to keep ratepayers in the dark. TVA uses their money as if it was TVA’s money pot free to use without restraint.


Google explains what their setup is supposed to be like. Enamored with renewables, Google expects their new data warehouse to be fully powered with renewables. Their plant will require enormous amounts of electricity which became Google’s on a questionable land easement deal. Does TVA sell the electricity needed for the warehouse to Google? Google’s explanation of using the infrastructure left behind by the closed Widows Creek coal fired plants implies that the power will be provided by Google via renewables sources. Of course, TVA is not available for clarifications of any of this.


Here are some questions for TVA:


  • Presumably there was valuation in TVA’s grant to Google for a permanent “easement” for some of the Widows Creek land. What and how much was it?
  • Was the purpose in using the easement process to avoid the required bidding process?
  • If so, does TVA intend to use this “go around” procedure in the future?
  • The “deal” made with Google has mysterious implications as to the future of TVA. Should TVA become a private utility versus a federal one thus breaking up TVA into several parts?


Right now, it seems that ratepayers are getting the short end of the stick. If TVA were a stock-holding company, surely the CEO would have to go.


Norsworthy Opinion

TVA – so when is a sheep a goat?

Chattanooga Free Press, a good job as usual in Dave Flessner’s reporting on what’s there but there is no “there, there” when TVA spouts its propaganda. I know it must be difficult to counterbalance what TVA says with the reality that TVA is traveling under false pretenses by claiming they can turn sheep into goats.

It’s impossible to argue with a false premise. Everybody at TVA talks about “competitiveness” when they’re talking about a federal agency program which never should compete with its own citizens. Long ago, TVA lost its legacy of helping the country through some tough spots and trying now to justify what it isn’t.
No, TVA is not a private utility (although it tries its darndest to be one,) it uses the language of a private utility which it is not. As the 10,000 federal employees will attest, “I ain’t givin’ my bonus back!”

Not until people like Rep John Duncan (R-TN) and many more like him rise up and see that the federal government has fooled them once more; it’s the ratepayer who was left holding the bag. By the way, who decides whether ratepayers are sheep or goats?
Rather than poring over the latest light bill and wondering when the next rate increase is coming, ratepayers should be challenging the enormous “bonuses” paid to federal TVA employees; money that rightfully should go to ratepayers.

I have followed TVA for many years and it unquestionably is increasing its power-grabbing through financial manipulations, its sprinkling of money throughout the huge TVA territory. Who gets most of TVA’s largess? The state that stands the most to lose – Tennessee. How can TVA budget all of these non-essential expenditures? One answer is that TVA just received the proceeds from a 50-year non-callable bond sale. TVA can play around with that kind of money for a very long time.

Forget the $30 billion cap set by Congress, its meaningless now. TVA has figured out ways to go around that cap taking the impotent congress out of the picture. TVA keeps trying to act like a private utility and they should be given a chance to see if they can operate without ANY government help.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Norsworthy Opinion

TVA – working off of a billion dollars

TVA – working off of a billion dollars

November 22, 2015


The Associated Press seemed to bust a gut in glowingly tell of the bonuses to some 10,000 federal TVA employees, averaging over $10,000 each. What is there to be proud of? It’s a government agency designed to compete with private utilities (I call that illegal); to drain private dollars from the TVA territory for manipulation, a billion dollars’ worth, and put it in the hands of non-elected presidential appointees headed by a so-called “CEO” whose compensation exceeds (over $6 million) any other federal employee.

The AP makes it sound so rosy, so non-competitive with stock-holding utilities. Friend, the AP couldn’t be further from the truth. The article uses the word “sharing” implying TVA is a shareholding entity. TVA has no shares; it is no more, no less than a federal agency that was set up incorrectly in 1933 and continues to this day as an aberration on the constitution.

AP apparently picked up the erroneous “2000 jobs cut” … “and not filled vacant positions to cut most of the more than 2,000 jobs eliminated over the past couple of years.” Early on, TVA admitted that the “2000 job cuts” were a fake and were only job positions that had not been filled. TVA has done nothing to correct this error in interpretation.

TVA employees are paid above the surrounding wages of the ones they serve. There is some resentment there; TVA employees do not have to merit the higher wages. …TVA is not a typical government agency and the federally owned utility must compete with higher-paying, investor-owned utilities to keep and retain top talent.”

“We are dealing with the fact that because of the high performance we are getting, many other utilities would like to hire our people away,” Ritch said. “We still pay below industry levels.”

I say, Mr. Ritch, there is no rush of TVA employees leaving the government’s arms of security. Let’s face it, TVA is known as a “plum” job. Offers of early retirement are slow in coming at TVA. Is it any wonder?

“A few years ago, everyone was talking about how TVA was going to have to raise its $30 billion debt ceiling, but we don’t here that talk anymore,” said Peter Mahurin, a TVA director. It is no secret, but TVA has figured out how to get around the $30 billion cap and to get all the money it wants. For the long-term… It’s called “kick the finance can into the next administration.”

“Our rates are very competitive and getting more competitive,” Johnson said Friday. What the hay, where does it say in the TVA charter that TVA is supposed to be “competitive,” is there a separate meaning to the word? The problem with TVA is that it has never become “neither fish nor fowl.” That goes back a long time when progressive FDR tried to mess things up (and he did!)

Soon to be published is my tome entitled “TVA Fraud.”

Norsworthy Opinion


TVA – happiness is cash from 50-year bonds

November 8. 2015

Oh glee! A billion bucks to play with! That must have been the TVA reaction after they sold $l billion of nonredeemable 50-year bonds recently. It looks to be a very bad bargain on the part of the bond holders. The purchase is based on a falsity. The law clearly states that the U.S. government is not responsible for TVA’s debt, yet that is apparently the assumption of Fitch, a rating company, by giving TVA their best rating. For rating companies it is a gamble; for bond buyers an even greater risk.

First, to think TVA will last 50 more years is ludicrous when the present administration already admits the usefulness of the TVA days are over. But keep in mind that this administration is ideologically driven by “climate change” (formally called “global warming”) in every way imaginable regardless of the impact it may have directly on jobs and economic growth.

Sadly, I must admit that with the billion dollar nonredeemable bond issue for 50-years, it will become almost impossible to jar TVA out of attempts to try to be like a private utility and predictably become neither “fish nor fowl” monster as originally stated by FDR. Incidentally, apparently the congress couldn’t care less about the TVA because no appropriations have been requested since 1959 and TVA continues to extend their debt for a long time in the future.

Regardless of the games TVA continues to play, the concept, the model TVA is operating under is like the golden goose sans the golden egg. I say TVA is a federal agency, not what FDR called it.

Norsworthy Opinion

TVA- can anyone intimidate the federal government to silence?

October 30, 2015

It appears that Google has provided enough “hush money” (a promised warehouse costing $600 million) that those involved locally and apparently TVA have signed agreements to keep silent about the “easement” deal between Google and TVA for 350 acres of federal land on the Widows Creek site in Stevenson, Alabama.

Google’s acquisition process has followed a similar path in building data centers worldwide. And if Google prefers that approach in building their data centers, so be it; no quibble there. But there is a major concern about TVA, a federal agency, agreeing not to divulge the details of the transaction, if TVA signed or orally agreed to a lock-down on information.

Congress has passed legislation, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), to keep federal agencies like TVA aware that federal information cannot be withheld when requested. That appears to be the case between TVA and Google; stonewalling is stonewalling in any event if TVA refuses to divulge the details of the deal. Serious consequences, for example, can result if RICO statutes apply. This is not to suggest that any of the parties involved in the “easement” deal between TVA and Google are suspected of carrying out illegal activities, but if Google has sworn a federal agency to secrecy when knowledge of those facts relate to millions of TVA ratepayers, the details of the “deal” must be shared.

TVA has an obligation to keep ratepayers, TVA’s main source of funding, informed and if TVA takes a dictatorial stance about it, well, there’s the FOIA (cough, cough) to try. A Tennessee newspaper tried that approach on another “deal” TVA worked but they were told that TVA’s refusal to release stood and that FOIA would back them up. The only alternative by the inquiring party was to sue, a long and costly venture.

Norsworthy Opinion

TVA – silence is golden?

October 25, 2015

Why is it that TVA makes one “curiouser and curiouser” the longer TVA’s side of the Google deal is kept secret? Sure, TVA is a federal agency and they manage to do what they want to do anyway, but remember, whatever TVA does is a direct charge to ratepayers; they have no choice as captives of a monopoly. Ratepayers deserve to be kept informed at the very least. After all, it’s their money TVA is committing or spending despite what TVA says. It’s true that Google swore everybody to secrecy in making the deal with TVA; maybe TVA doesn’t know when they can speak for fear of retribution from Google and it seems so from the others involved. Shut up! Or I’ll take back my $600 million warehouse! Is that what Google is implying?

Google has committed to build a $600 million warehouse on 350 acres of the closed Widows Creek coal-fired plant and “repurposing” it. That’s a key word from Google, just what does “repurposing” mean? The number of technicians to run the warehouse is probably fewer than 100 employees. There is no question about the impact of Google’s expansion on the community, state of Alabama and the region.

What’s in it for TVA is unclear and it will stay that way until TVA decides to talk. How much did Google pay, if anything, for the TVA “easement” peculiarity, a sales transaction? It must have been an impressive amount; hundreds of federal employees working on the deal, all sworn to secrecy. Can you imagine that many people keeping silent? Especially, feds?

Norsworthy Opinion

TVA – not important as a defense budget veto?

October 24, 2015

The president’s veto of a national defense bill partly because it goes around budgetary caps on defense spending should apply to TVA. TVA’s cap of $30 billion in borrowing is easily avoided by artfully ignoring a congressional mandate. This suggests the administration is picking and choosing mandates, especially those ideological programs. But this doesn’t let congress off the hook; just because TVA does not request appropriations, congress will have to pay “appropriations” in a big way after they have stopped “kicking the gnarled can down the road.” Ah yes, congress has forgotten its role of oversight.

With almost universal disdain, TVA has become the laughing stock of the nuclear industry, the whipping boy of how not to “run a railroad.” Warning, with the incompetence of government-run anything, how can the TVA or its predecessors maintain a safe nuclear environment forever when the hodge-podge of a nuclear reactor takes 40 years to complete? Mismanagement and its start-stop incompetence have shown the world how not to “build a better mouse trap” and if any other countries follow the U.S. model, they do so at their own peril. Speaking of TVA’s audacious “deal” with Google, TVA has gone completely bonkers.

Here’s what we know; TVA and its sound-alike private enterprise negotiations with Google in very secret emails, hundreds of them, (my, hundreds of federal employees worked so hard exchanging emails with Google while sworn to secrecy along with involved local representatives). It was all so hush, hush. But that’s not the catch; TVA actually disposed of federal property through a permanent “easement”, 350 acres of the Widows Creek site. TVA admitted this method of land disposal avoided those pesky rules governing federal land disposal. TVA has yet to disclose after over 4 months just exactly how much more TVA ratepayers have to ante up. Whatever the “deal” TVA made with Google, it has not been transparent at all. And the decision to go ahead with the agreement rested in the hands of part-time and appointed federal employees. State and local elected representatives were shut out of the decision-making process. In fact, the sovereignty of 7 states was completely ignored.

Clearly, TVA was way out of bounds; the legality of the “deal” has to be highly questioned as to TVA’s authority to make such a transaction. Where was the TVA Inspector General, the government’s watchdog, who should have advised of TVA’s shaky ground?

Still, the best solution in handling “deals” like that with Google is to let free enterprise do the competitive give and take; there should be no bargaining with the federal government. If for some reason there are errors made on TVA’s part by any of the hundreds of federal employees, you can bet that not a single federal employee will be fired, punished in any way, demoted or held liable; that’s the way the federal government works, not private enterprise.

All a sleuth has to do is to follow the money, the sizable sum of $10 billion a year. Oh yes, the flippancy of the way TVA handles the deadliest element on earth, nuclear, without finding a way to safely store the residue is criminal. Until a solution is found, all nuclear activity should cease immediately.

Norsworthy Opinion