TVA’s grand free money program

TVA’s grand free money programs
February 13, 2011

Just who does TVA think it is? What gives it the authority to give away “grant” money it does not have such as the $43,000,000 it gave to the city of Harriman to help polish its image after the Kingston disaster or the recent grant of $5,000 to Cleveland State Community College in Cleveland, Tennessee. This was the third of such grants to the college.

Where exactly does it say that TVA can take money from a captured group of people, some 9 million of them who are TVA’s exclusive customers, TVA ratepayers, to use in any fanciful way it chooses? Where exactly does it say that TVA is authorized to take $43 million of ratepayers’ money to help rebuild an old theater or $5,000 apparently several times to help the college buy some equipment? Where?

I cannot find it in the TVA Act, certainly not in the U.S. Constitution, so why have we let the TVA take it upon itself to do some strange and wild things with ratepayers’ money? The strange creature, the strangest of all federal agencies and a not so humorous Peck’s Bad Boy of the Constitution, the Tennessee Valley Authority has gone unchecked for most of its 77 years as a separate federal entity.

The TVA waste and inefficiencies count untold billions of dollars much of which still is being paid for by TVA ratepayers. And now the head of that agency, CEO Tom Kilgore, has the dubious honor of being the highest paid federal employee in America. Last year he was paid $3.6 million to manage 12,000 employees including a highly paid staff of 1,000. They must have run out of names to call the many staff positions and one is called “Group President” which explains nothing since there is only one “president” of the TVA, Tom Kilgore.

For people going a-begging for a grant, looks like TVA could be a rich source of free money. Hidden under the term “Corporate Contributions”, TVA has an extensive list of eligible projects or programs for the picking and even after that list comes “other” which apparently means anything else anyone can think of to get some free money.

It is obvious that this is a well milked source of gratis money and apparently the load has been so great that all applications for any grant money must now be submitted by e-mail, no more paperwork on this monster.

Can’t find even a murmur of grant money in the TVA Act but of course it must stem from something in there that grants its legitimacy. Or maybe not; TVA pulls much out of thin air with its magic sky hook.

Somewhere in TVA’s arcane budgetary accounts will be hidden “Corporate Contributions” but how much TVA spends on this giveaway program is never revealed. The title itself is a typical TVA cover up. TVA aches to be considered a regular “corporate” partner in there with the big boys but like the mermaid, TVA is destined always to remain a fish.

Meanwhile, it is the duty of all ratepayers to challenge every penny TVA spends particularly on grant programs which TVA admits is an attempt to embed itself into the community to gain future business. Let’s call it bribery, part of the deep seated problem with the TVA culture. TVA attempts first to buy off its problems before finally being compromised.

There has never been a modern day organization in the Southeast that has warped the Southern economy with as bad a federal policy than the TVA. Add to that, TVA’s attempts to buy off local and state politicians with its so-called payments in lieu of taxes which is of course a lie because TVA pays only about a third of what usually would be paid by and investor owned utility.

TVA takes ten billion dollars annually out of state and local economies in seven states that go directly to the U.S. Treasury Department later to be doled out by federal employees. In other words, that money does not filter through the economy in a normal fashion but through the eyes and ideas made up by federal agents from Washington.

Want to go “green”? The feds say “buy wind power” from as far away as North Dakota. Why? Because the administration wants TVA to spend money there and for other cost prohibitive “green” projects and programs. Do ratepayers have anything to say about this, the ones who must pay for every cent of TVA’s mismanagements? Not on your life.

TVA still is to explain how the so-called Green Power Switch Program, the one where consumers buy “blocks” of imaginary electricity and receive nothing in return, is financed. They do not even receive the satisfaction of knowing that their donations go to “green” projects or programs because TVA clearly states that Green Power Switch dollars go directly into TVA’s power “mix” and not to a specific “green” project or program. (Hmmm, wonder if those Green Power Switch donations are tax deductible.)

As reported earlier, there should certainly be some consternation of how TVA accounts for millions of Green Power Switch money, of how it overspent that account by nearly $700,000 and why and how TVA “subsidized” the account. Below is my latest FOIA request on this program.

“Listed below are those remaining records to be considered a new FOIA request on TVA’s GPS program:

– The drop off rate of GPS customers by type.
– The separately identifiable accounts where the GPS money is accounted for.
– If there are no separate accounts, the name of the account GPS money resides in.
– The TVA account or accounts the $659,803 was taken from to pay the undersubscribed GPS account.
– The date or dates the $659,803 will be repaid and to which accounts.
– Current unambiguous projections of incoming GPS funds.
– The number of “blocks” of GPS electricity sold in December 2010 or the last month for which this number is available.”

I am having some difficulty in getting TVA’s numbers to add up properly and to understand some of TVA’s conflicting statements. I do not feel confident TVA will ever voluntarily provide the answers to my clear questions. If only one measure is used; the time elapsed thus far to get only partial answers since June 2010, this will be hopelessly strung out.

With confidence still remaining in the Government Accountability Office’s ability to ferret out the mistakes, mismanagements and gross negligence of some TVA actions including the TVA Office of Inspector General, I believe the public will be served. Meanwhile, TVA continues it’s dissembling, omitting important facts and general dishonesty with TVA ratepayers, the ones responsible for paying for all of TVA’s messes.

Ernest Norsworthy

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