TVA fails funds accountability test for Green Power Switch Program

TVA fails funds accountability test for Green Power Switch program
January 15, 2011

In a dramatic partial explanation of TVA’s Green Power Switch accounting, the director of the program Ms. Jenny Wright said, “GPS revenue did not cover program expenses in 2010. Our revenue was $2.5 million and our expenses (energy costs, site maintenance, program administration and advertising) were over $3 million.” My previous question as to which of the “green” programs or projects this money applied to went unanswered again.

While there was no explanation from which account those expenses were paid, her statement that “…We simply do not track GPS revenue in separate accounts” is proof enough that GPS funds go into TVA’s general fund account.

There is no way to determine if a donation to TVA’s Green Power Switch program actually goes to so-called “green” projects or programs. And that is the whole basis for trying to collect extra money from TVA electricity consumers; that is why I believe that TVA’s Green Power Switch program is a misleading attempt to just garner more revenues with little or no accountability for it.

This was the second attempt for answers about the GPS program through the FOIA and while some additional information was revealed, some basic accounting questions remain.

The fact that TVA spent $659,803 more than the $2,490,304 received for the GPS program in 2010 does not explain where the extra money came from and whether or not it was included in TVA’s other green power programs.

This is the first time TVA openly admits there is no separate accounting for money contributed through the GPS program and when TVA says that $4 “blocks” of imaginary electricity go into TVA’s “mix” it means, “thanks for the donation to TVA’s overall operating and maintenance account”.

While not mentioning that cash for electricity goes into a Treasury account (from the first FOIA request) for TVA, it appears to contradict Ms. Wright’s statement, “There are no other accounts containing GPS revenue.”

If GPS funds merely are dropped into TVA’s general fund the numbers now being used to describe where the GPS money went are meaningless. From its inception over ten years ago, the Green Power Switch program has managed to receive millions of dollars from gullible electricity customers who have believed that their $4 donations really go toward “green” projects or programs when in fact those millions merely went into TVA’s money pot.

“However, the program is important to TVA and the decision has been made to subsidize program expenses in the years where revenue doesn’t cover costs in order to keep the program operating until the program goal of revenue-neutral is achieved.” Question; “Where did the $659,803 “subsidy” come from?”

“We do not track drop-offs because of our business structure and relationship with distributors. While total renewable energy sales have increased by around 7.5%, participation has dropped by around 5% each year for the past couple of years.” Said Ms. Wright but not explaining anything about TVA’s “business structure” with TVA’s distributors and the GPS program.

How can the participation rate drop “around 5%” for the last two years and not know how many drop off’s there have been? This suspiciously looks like “green” accountability at the TVA is less than believable.

And that is why I have called for a thorough investigation of TVA’s Green Power Switch program and its misleading, even called false representation of the GPS program to residential users of TVA electricity.

I expect to receive even more information from TVA about the GPS program in a third round of FOIA requests.

Ernest Norsworthy

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