TVA – wasteful spending on nuclear reactors


TVA – wasteful spending on nuclear reactors

February 27, 2013

 The Tennessee Valley Authority, you know, the federal agency that supplies electricity for about nine million people in the Southeast, must be crazy if the definition of insanity is described as repeating the same mistakes and expecting a different outcome.

 The most outlandish example of this is how TVA has dealt with nuclear reactors from the start. First, a group of three so-called experts in the field decided wrongly on the number of reactors that would be needed for then and for long-term. They started far too many at once; costs became overwhelming and demand for electricity dropped drastically. This scenario is repeating itself yet again. But what does TVA do?

 ‘Let’s build so-called small modular reactors for a tenth of the cost and of course at a tenth of the power.’ That’s the prediction from the experts when the SMR has never been built or successfully tested to the consternation of TVA’s ratepayers, the ones who must pay for a very expensive experiment; its hair-pulling time.

 One thing ratepayer’s dread is that they must pay again for another TVA folly. It’s a familiar theme; borrow more money and this time get even more help from the Department of Energy which is illegal on the face of it. The pattern is the same and the road is endless for can kicking.

 TVA is a peculiar program of FDR’s that President Obama would like to emulate, no matter the cost or who has to pay. TVA ratepayers should have a say in any developments that directly affect their pockbook.

 Costly reactors, fits and starts, have cost billions in wasted dollars. And now TVA is trying to finish two reactors that have decade’s old and obsolete technology. What to do? Why, plow ahead with old concepts none of which were time and cost estimated properly within a “budget” (using the term “budget” very loosely,) and continued use of the insanity defense?

 One of the old reactors was re-started at the Browns Ferry site and TVA proclaimed that the restart was “on time and on budget,” neither of which, as it turned out, was true. But President Bush took TVA’s statement as true and repeated the error. Bush was “sandbagged”; of course, nobody at TVA was punished for lying or was fired.

 The project has been plagued with problems since then but all TVA does is throw good money after bad. At one time, the NRC rated it the worst nuclear reactor in the U.S. I have knowledge from an eyewitness report that the operators acted lackadaisical and one time let a cleanup person “shut down a nuclear reactor.”

 TVA says it plans to do a new “Integrated Resource Plan.” Much time and travel expense went into the present IRP, including secret meetings. The likely results would be similar; not worth the paper that it was written on. The problem is that TVA’s mission was completed many decades ago: every few years TVA has since come up with yet another “plan.”

 The TVA has gone begging for congressional control; it should be abolished or absolve ratepayers’ obligation for TVA’s $30 billion debt and increasing experimental funds.

 Ernest Norsworthy

Limited Government





TVA FOIA on Green Power Switch continues

Ms. Denise Smith
TVA FOIA Officer
Tennessee Valley Authority
Knoxville, Tennessee

February 24, 2011

Dear Ms. Smith;

Please be advised that the information requested through the TVA FOIA will be used in a commercial venture, namely, the publication of much of it in a forthcoming book about the TVA.

I would be happy to send you a copy of the chapter headings of that book and a picture of its proposed cover. At this point it is estimated the final number of pages of the book will be between 300 and 400 pages. It readily will be available on the Internet upon publication for a sales price not yet determined.

Hopefully, this will be sufficient reason to proceed with my FOIA request concerning information from the TVA OIG’s office and to waive the proposed $1,000 fee. To speed up the process, a search of only the past five fiscal years would be sufficient to my needs so long as they coincide with the CRS certifications time frame.

Also, I would appreciate a response to the remaining items on my original Green Power Switch request stretching back to last June which deal with financial data of the GPS program.

Thanks for an early response.

Ernest Norsworthy

TVA needs more competition

TVA needs more competition

In response to and article in The Tennessean I’ve written a two-part piece (In an entirety here) that tries to clarify that TVA is a federal agency and should not be in competition at all with our market-enterprise system.

My comments:

“TVA intervention into the lives of millions of people is not a two-way street; there is only one way and that belongs completely to the TVA.

“TVA needs more competition”, the writer says. What we have here, to quote a famous movie line, “is a failure to communicate”.

The writer’s main but incorrect assumption is that TVA should compete in the marketplace while as a federal government agency it should be explicitly prohibited from competing in our free market entrepreneurial society. What would that mean?

Let’s look at a little history. Senator George Norris from Nebraska, looking down from his lofty position as a pre-Depression senate chairman proclaimed, “The poor downtrodden people in the Tennessee River Valley deserve more to help them out of poverty.” He seemed not to care as much for the same poor downtrodden people from his own state.

And so began his quest for a federally planned and operated scheme of federal control of a huge swath of the Southeast. President after president rejected his ideas until President Roosevelt came along and rewarded the Republican senator with what we now know as the TVA Act of 1933 as part of FDR’s New Deal.

Norris fought and fought still more for “little TVA’s” throughout the land but wiser congresses refused to go along. Norris later was defeated as a Nebraska senator. Many in the South look upon him as a sort of savior when in fact it was he that carried over the national domination of the South since the Civil War, properly called the “War Between the States”.

TVA has warped the economies of the seven states where it dominates in an 80,000 sq. mi. territory from the tip of Virginia to middle Mississippi, almost all of Tennessee. The TVA Act is a really devilish scheme to buy off state and local governments with its so-called payments in lieu of taxes which amount to 5% of TVA’s gross annual sales now at about $10 billion.

Now this money does not travel through normal tax collection methods of the states but goes directly to state and local governments, “slush funds” former Alabama governor Bob Riley called them.

TVA’s deceit is that while calling it an “in lieu” payment, it is no such thing. Some studies show that TVA pays only about a third of what utilities in the area pay. That’s just one example of TVA’s cheating. Another is TVA’s willing acceptance of a fraudulent AAA credit rating which enables TVA to sell bonds at a more favorable rate that others competing for that same money in the bond markets.

GAO once did a survey that showed how this preferential rating cost other utilities millions of dollars. The reason that the highest credit rating is fraudulent is that the government explicitly does not guarantee TVA bonds. But the rating agencies do not believe the government will allow TVA to default on its debts while there is absolutely no evidence that the government will not abide by its own written, explicitly written, assurance that it will not stand behind TVA’s debt.

This is getting to a critical point because TVA is broke and under almost any other circumstances TVA would be in default right now.

It’s a long and sordid tale that gets only messier and messier with debt piled higher and higher on ratepayers with no end in sight.

For much more about the TVA see Norsworthy Opinion on the Internet.”

Ernest Norsworthy