“How clean was my Valley” TVA and pollution

The Decatur Daily (Alabama) recently wrote admiringly about TVA’s quiet “clean air” progress; still in Utopialand.

TVA is not so quietly, but desperately trying to cling to the status quo in the face of two consecutive years of Obama’s suggestion that TVA might have outlasted its usefulness. Still, the actual reason is TVA’s overwhelming debt overhang which is about to exceed Congress’s $30 billion debt cap; this counts against the federal budget shortfall. That’s the real reason for the “outlived its usefulness” remark by OMB, which is, of course, also true.

TVA will spare no avenue to seek support to help save the 80 year old federal monolith. For example, TVA contracted (thanks to TVA ratepayers) with a financial market specialist, Lazard Frères, for a million dollar study, which, wonder of wonders, recommends keeping TVA. But their data do not necessarily bear out their ad hoc conclusions.

Is TVA air cleaner than, say, South Carolina air? (Or Lower Alabama air?) TVA can’t prove that it is or is not; they can only brag about TVA accomplishments. Ah, how clean was my Valley.

Why is TVA, a federal agency, doing such a “good job” of providing cleaner air? Well, it’s more often than not at the behest of the all-powerful EPA, which is likewise a higher ranked federal agency. If not throttled by Congress, EPA promises to control even the air we exhale and every drop of water that exists.

No, it’s a little different down here below in Utopialand where jobs do not magically come down as manna from heaven, but from man’s own hard work.

  Isn’t it time to be released from the spell TVA has cast on too many in the South? And let the innate instincts of entrepreneurship take over? For good reasons to abolish TVA, see the references below.

Ref: http://limitedgovt.com/ and http://www.thecre.com/insurance/?p=1293

TVA to meet with Obama soonApril 27, 2013 It

TVA to meet with Obama soon

April 27, 2013

 It is not coincidental that Reuters has stolen a march on TVA media about a meeting soon with the Obama administration. TVA has been jealously guarded and hardly ever is criticized by the local media. CEO Bill Johnson is extremely worried about his job saying, “We want to hold these meetings as quickly as possible to avoid periods of uncertainty,” quoting the Reuters article.

 And that goes for the some 13,000 federal employees who are faced with probable dislocation from their over-priced positions. But TVA carries a lot of baggage from 80 years of pretending it was a regular private-enterprise utility. TVA has confused other federal agencies and in effect, declared itself different, and that it should be handled differently.

 Millions have been spent by TVA defending itself from every imagined lawsuit; TVA has appealed every decision held against them when common sense said many of them should have been settled. There is no “bottom line” for TVA and it competes with private industry at every move.

 Beside artificially warping the economy of the South, it patronizes with its largess in many ways. It just never should have become an operational electricity supplier; it has tried to become a separate entity from the federal government with a set of rules of its own.

 Appealing to the citizens in the TVA territory for decades with its promise of “cheap” electricity, which is no longer true despite its federal advantages, it nonetheless has maintained the myth of cheapness. Many have hardened their belief it is so.

 The burden of TVA’s unbridled spending is on the ratepayers, not the taxpayers. And TVA spending does not go through the natural business filters to determine its economic value typically given to users and stockholders.

 Bill Johnson was right about one thing, there is no way to determine TVA’s market value when TVA has never been valued in the market.

 Ernest Norsworthy

Limited Government



TVA – in the crosshairs again
March 26, 2013

So again, we come to another crossroads concerning the Tennessee Valley Authority. There have been so many “crossroads” and opportunities missed that one wonders if most citizens couldn’t care less about the ever-heating water TVA ratepayers are in, like the frog not recognizing he has already been cooked.

This latest crossroad comes with Pres. Obama’s renomination of Marilyn Brown to the TVA board. His first renomination failed when both Tennessee senators objected and blocked it earlier this year. Brown becomes the “whipping boy” for the administration, which advocates climate control and a cap on carbon both of which she agrees with through “energy efficiency.” This is a buzz phrase meaning more government control over the lives of nine million citizens in the TVA territory.

When decisions about their use of electricity emanates from Washington, it is evident that government knows best; go ahead and pay a fair share for your electricity for the good of all. This, of course, is anathema to the way American’s feel about their government. And that sets up a battle between the Obama ideology and the basic principles that drive American citizens; entrepreneurship, self-reliance and competitiveness.

The TVA is not representative of any of these and is, in fact, clearly anti competitive. TVA has driven competition out of the TVA territory by reducing rates unsustainable by private enterprise. Despite these incursions, TVA has been unable to match or meet present electricity rates of some surrounding utilities.

One reason for this is that TVA has been used as a vehicle for behavioral change such as the incentivized use of wind and solar energy. Some wind-powered electricity comes to TVA via subsidies from the Dept. Of Energy to the suppliers. This clearly is a violation of federal law that prohibits TVA from receiving congressional appropriations although indirectly.

As a federal arm of the administration, TVA has the power of eminent domain, the forcible taking of private property, among other advantages. Just the underlying threat of eminent domain has been a powerful tool unavailable to those standing in the way of TVA. Most significant is the anti-competitive position of TVA; it talks “competitiveness” but acts as a federal power; it has effective electric rate control over 80,000 sq. miles of southern land and all of its communities in seven states. TVA has accumulated debt of $30 billion, which is the responsibility of ratepayers, not taxpayers.

TVA presents a basic problem of the agency since 1933. Should TVA direct the planning and distribution of electricity for 9 million citizens thru the central government or should the market-driven free enterprise system do it?

The battle-lines have been drawn (again.) The Congress is in a position to get the South on track again with common sense legislation for a free people; to move out of the way and let the free-market decide which is the better way.

Marilyn Brown just happens to hold the Obama ground of more government-directed behavioral change and the rest of most of us who want less government, particularly of the TVA type, and to give that sovereign ground back to state control.

Ernest Norsworthy
Limited Government

TVA – does it own the news?

TVA – does it own the news?

March 7, 2013

 Another writer in another newspaper questioned whether NASCAR owns the images of that fiery crash at the Daytona 500 race, which brought up the question of who actually owns any of the news. For example, I own this article, yet it is freely available to the public. From what I can see, my writings have a varied and wide distribution; I am happy about that because what I have to say, I believe, is relevant to the times.

 The point is this: Almost everybody has an opinion about endless things and many, like me, write about what is interesting. In my case, it mostly is about government. Those who approach a subject, as journalists are supposed to do so with objective balance, are obliged to tell both sides of a story to remain credible, a high mark.

 One such journalist who easily reaches that mark is Dave Flessner at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Dave is becoming a rarity these days because most other so-called journalists present their own point of view or keep quiet another’s and do not reveal the truth. To be fair, most news media cannot afford the calibre of Flessner on their staff.

 Major cutbacks in print media circulation and advertising have called for major belt tightening, unlike our bloated federal government. Newspapers have had to rely on national media reporting as a cost reduction effort. This content, of course, short-changes local readers, which is why many readers subscribe in the first place.

 After many years of following the media in discussions about the mammoth TVA, extremely few media post anything, local analysis, commentary, except perhaps what the TVA expounds, leaving out the significance of the effect TVA is having on them. There really is not that many key media centers in TVA’s territory; Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, and Chattanooga in Tennessee and three in north Alabama; Florence, Decatur, and Huntsville, the latter known for Redstone Arsenal and BRAC. (What to do with surplus federal employees from closed federal operations?)

 These three cities are the most federally dominated in all of Alabama. TVA in Muscle Shoals, Ala. was the foundation for the federal TVA intervention program and now TVA spans a great swath of the South from the western tip of Virginia to middle Mississippi, covering about 9 million people. Many lines of political jurisdiction are crossed in the process.  

  In my opinion, while TVA exists it does not come under the cloak of constitutionality. In some eyes, it is heretical to speak ill of TVA and others see TVA for what it is, government run wild, and a federal agency out of control that is usurping the rights of the people.

 Who owns the news about TVA? Certainly not TVA.




TVA and the Roger Taney Supreme Court decision (A comment in the Tennessean 3-6-13)

Isn’t this about where our Constitution began to be discredited by black citizens? Taney is remembered for a grossly misconstructed Supreme Court decision yet, he seemed to exemplify exactly the opposite in his personal life.

 In times of turmoil, we sometimes make grossly mistaken decisions that affect a great many people and circumstances for a very long time. Such is the case of the once glorified Tennessee Valley Authority, which as a federal agency promised to rid us of the Great Depression symptoms.

 Yes, fear was in the air; any plan of hope will do, shove private enterprise aside, and let the plan from Washington begin. Temporarily, TVA did provide some jobs (my Dad actually worked on electrifying one of the dams) but it seemed that FDR had another plan in mind for TVA to “electrify America.” Congress squelched the idea of so-called “little TVA’s” however; TVA itself has grown into a behemoth of epic proportions and mostly without supervision or oversight by Congress.

 When the law was changed so that TVA became “self-sufficient” it just opened the backdoor to exotic financing, debt financing that nears $30 billion dollars today.

 Income to the federal TVA now is about $10 billion annually and by 2015 the total will reach $500 billion (is that a half-trillion dollars?) for the preceding five years. That is a huge amount of money going for federally directed projects; when TVA is liquidated those moneys will go to our free-market economy coffers instead of supporting the federal government.

 Yes, the Taney decision was a horrible mistake but in terms of dollars taken from the nine million citizens in the South for federal purposes, TVA is by far the winner.

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 – a secret federal agency?


In TVA’s first full public meeting in 2013, pooh-bah Bill Sansom, Chairman of TVA’s board of directors, said in reference to private meetings between TVA staff and board members, “because it just works better that way,” quoting from an article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Friday. Such meetings will be kept from the public’s view.


 TVA has never wanted open meetings; ever wonder why “agenda” items pass unanimously so frequently without any opposition? These once a quarter public meetings are mostly attended for show enabling the public to sound off; it rarely does any good. I cannot recall but one instance in years of meetings where there was opposition to an agenda item, only once in years of meetings. That one time was a vote, ironically, to have such meetings between directors and TVA staff open and transparent. (I believe Bishop Graves noted that early in his appointment as a director.)


After all, TVA is supposed to be a work in process, an example of transparency in government. Stockholding utilities on the other hand, reveal as much as their shareholders want to allow. Battles sometimes are so intense that CEO’s or other top officers often are asked to resign or are outright fired. They were not strong enough on the bottom line. TVA has no “bottom line.”


This is where TVA’s bright line of separation of government from private enterprise comes in. TVA has been conflicted from the start by following FDR’s desire for TVA to act like a stock sharing company while still retaining the power of the federal government, of the power to take private property.


 TVA works in a specific geographic area behind the “fence” of no competition; however, TVA has national implications by purchases hundreds of miles away driving a national agenda for more “green” energy. Recently, TVA has contracted for some wind-driven electrical power that is over the cost of producing power within the TVA territory but supports the national agenda.


All of this is at the expense of TVA ratepayers for it is they who must pay for these extravagances and for other TVA giveaway programs.


TVA has the gall to continue accepting “free” money through their so-called Green Power Switch program where they sell imaginary “blocks” of electricity but this imaginary electricity is paid by ratepayers in real money. Check out this fraud; I have and am appalled at the gullibility of some TVA ratepayers to fall for such a swindle. Yet, they seem too much blinded by the environmentalists’ glare to seek a utopian world.      


If you think about it, ratepayers pay twice for their electricity when a distant windpower source is used. Once, as a US taxpayer when the Dept. of Energy subsidizes it, and again, as a TVA ratepayer when TVA sells that same power. Something doesn’t smell right here.


Is TVA headed for the “cliff”? Stay tuned…