TVA board will not respond as promised (as of March 27,2011)

To: TVA Board Members: Chairman Dennis Bottorff; Marilyn A. Brown; Mike Duncan; Tom Gilliland; William Graves; Barbara S. Haskew; and Neil McBride (Inadvertently omitted was director William B. Sansom)

Re: TVA Board Meeting February 18, 2011 at Murphy, N.C.

Over all, the meeting went as smoothly as apparently planned even with one member slot remaining unfilled. It is clear however, because this a bureaucratic organization operating exactly like a federal bureaucracy, Parkinson’s Law is applicable to the TVA,

“WORK EXPANDS SO AS TO FILL THE TIME AVAILABLE FOR ITS COMPLETION”.

This is evidenced by the expansion of committee assignments relating to nuclear and additional work by staff to come up with answers to questions by board members. Credit goes to Mr. McBride for asking for a back up of some figures TVA provided on “retained” jobs.
And to Mr. Sansom for wondering why TVA does not show TVA’s rates on customers’ utility bills similar to when they get gas at a service station, so much per gallon. In this case, so much per kWh.

Oh yes, Mr. Kilgore stated you could go to a couple of sources on TVA’s Securities and Exchange Commission report to do the calculating.

Why not go to Atlanta for TVA records? That’s where I once was referred to by “TVA Info”. It was not too long ago that not even the sparse financial information gleaned from SEC reports was available to the public. And that information still is far short of an understanding of TVA’s creative accounting processes.

A probing question by Mr. McBride was what was the reason for TVA shifting rates from one category to another even though the results were “neutral”? There was no understandable answer to that question although TVA is well known for not revealing the true motives behind its actions. In this regard, it appears that TVA is not abiding by its own charter, the law, to not separate by class different rates within a single class.

The whole meeting, the whole reason for TVA is to provide electricity at the lowest possible cost to 9 million customers yet the word “ratepayer” was uttered only twice and that only heard in passing. Any way you cut TVA’s organization, four, six or many ways it is the TVA ratepayer who must pay for every penny of it. TVA’s unwieldy financial structure where ratepayers are now responsible for over $20 billion in TVA debt, debt that under any reasonable scenario is unsustainable by ratepayers short of tremendously increasing their rates.

While the charts and graphs were much too small to be readable, one of them where CEO Kilgore was talking about, I think, was TVA’s relative position in rates, “about the middle”, speaks volumes of how TVA’s claim of “cheap” rates flies out the window. Short of moving out of TVA’s 80,000 sq. mi. territory, ratepayers have no choice in what or how TVA spends ratepayers’ money. And TVA’s decisions as you know are unappealable.

The question is if investor owned electricity companies can serve their customers at less cost than it costs TVA, any of them, then TVA is not doing its proper job and is defaulting on its charge in the TVA Act to provide the lowest cost possible to consumers.

Two other words key to the success of America’s dynamism – entrepreneur and competition – in the marketplace were missing. Until TVA is turned into a supporter of our free market and not a diminisher of it, TVA will continue its inefficient and costly ways to remain outside mainstream America.

Federal appropriations the answer? The moment that becomes a viable option for the TVA, TVA ratepayers’ debt burden will be lifted. Already ratepayers resent having to pay for TVA’s gross mistakes such as the Kingston disaster and for the extremely costly start up costs of nuclear reactors, even the smallest ones.

By showing that only one nuclear reactor is under construction in America compared with the many which seem to be being built in the rest of the world clearly points out the impracticality of nuclear energy and the longstanding problem of how to deal with nuclear waste.
In the “listening” opening session, one person complained about how it seemed totally unreasonable to not be able to get the regulations he was subject to without going through the TVA Freedom of Information Act officer. If what he said was true, and I believe it to be true from my own experiences in requesting FOIA information, TVA needs to consider asking to be exempted from answering any more FOIA requests or to be turned into what the national law clearly states TVA responsibilities are to public requests.

Without a litany of the fits and starts I have been subjected to by the TVA FOIA, suffice to say it has been a horrible, time-wasting and futile experience in getting plain information from the TVA. To top it off, my last request (I have only two of them pending), TVA now wants to charge me $1000 for looking up the information.
This clearly is a TVA tactic of a brush off; I have written the TVA FOIA officer that I do not intend to pay a penny for information that readily should be available yet it has taken since last June to get bits and pieces of it.
The second FOIA request deals with information that only the TVA OIG has and they are the ones stonewalling, wanting $1000 for their efforts. The problem: TVA does not want to reveal some information and will stop at nothing to prevent its release.

A little help from you might get the process moving properly. I would be happy to provide to each Board member the details of my FOIA requests from the TVA.
One of the questions raised was that I appeared to have no need for the requested information and it would not be made available without paying, in this case to the TVA OIG, $1000. For your information, I have developed quite a following on my website, Norsworthy Opinion, and for the past 12 months I have received nearly 10,000 hits on it.

From that alone, it should be obvious that many people are interested in what I have to say about the TVA and many have relied on my reports for a closer look at the TVA.

As was promised by chairman Bottorff to provide responses to other requesters, I would appreciate a reply from any or all of TVA’s board members.

Ernest Norsworthy

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