How much longer will TVA be allowed to compete with private industry? Where’s the outrage?’s

How much longer will TVA be allowed to compete with private industry? Where’s the outrage?

October 12, 2015

With great advantages over privately owned utilities. TVA has continued to “outlive its usefulness,” as the current Washington administration asserts. You can romance TVA’s history and glorify its past but that’s for the novel writers. The Site Selection magazine, September issue, has a Utopian tale of the struggles the federal government trying to woo Google through the diligence of 200 federal employees and thousands of e-mails, so they say. If this tale is not beginning to make your blood boil, it should.

Through extremely secret negotiations, Google warned the locals involved not to leak what Google had planned; TVA has yet to reveal the details of the deal between Google and TVA as if this was the normal thing to do. Google can follow its own lights but it is a different story with TVA, a federal agency. TVA has pulled this trick before but nothing approaching a $600,000 million project. TVA’s trick? Do not respond to inquiries they do not like; being competitive, you know.

In other deals TVA has made, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) doesn’t even work; FOIA has become another federal agency the Congress has ignored.

Some specific questions about this highly unusual deal between TVA and Google:

  • What did TVA grant in the “easement” of approximately 360 acres to Google?
  • Will TVA provide Google only renewable electricity?
  • Did TVA work out a special rate for Google?
  • How does TVA justify going around the specific laws which prohibit the sale or lease (or through “easement”) instead of using the bidding process?
  • The recent disposal of federal property in N. Alabama had such over lording of federal rules that it is unlikely much of it will be sold by the communities very quickly. Why is this land disposal so different from the Google deal?

TVA has nearly 300 acres of surplus property it has had in inventory for decades. Will TVA “fast track” these holdings like or similar to the Google transaction? Since this is federal property involved, what right does TVA have to take the proceeds of the sale of its assets for its own use? A sale means the proceeds belong to the American taxpayer (you and me as well as TVA ratepayers); it should be deposited in a U.S. Treasury account.

The problem here is that TVA is competing with private enterprise. It is wrong for the federal government to compete with taxpaying utilities that through legitimate competition and innovation drive the cost of electricity down. TVA, a monopoly, cannot even beat surrounding electricity suppliers. State PSC’s, at least, act as watchdogs for the public but they play no part in TVA’s central planning.

There have been many advocates for the dissolution of TVA even before President Eisenhower. Somehow, though, TVA has maintained its role as “the largest public provider of electricity” in the United States, not a proud achievement. And from my view, “how can so many be wrong?” It will be writ someday that TVA started as a disaster in 1933 and ended up deeply in debt as a jumble of a socialistic mix resembling private enterprise.

It is capitalism that made this a great nation, not growth in government; and it is projects like TVA that will turn this country into a capitulation nation unlike the principles laid down by our Founding Fathers over 200 years ago.

Norsworthy Opinion

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