Trump Recommends Sale Of TVA Transmission Lines; TVA Responds; Corker, Alexander Say Sale Unlikely

Monday, February 12, 2018

President Donald Trump, in a major infrastructure proposal, is recommending that TVA divest itself of transmission lines.

He said the transmission assets should be privatized, saying federal ownership results in "sub-optimal investment decisions."

Senator Bob Corker said, “While it is important to remember that TVA has not received any taxpayer funding since 1999 and has taken positive steps in recent years to pay down its debt, as I’ve said before, I think it’s valuable to evaluate from time to time reforms that could cause TVA to function more effectively for Tennessee taxpayers and ratepayers. That said, at the end of the day, selling TVA is a very unlikely outcome.”

Senator Lamar Alexander said, “The president may suggest a budget, but, under the Constitution, Congress sets spending priorities and passes appropriations bills. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will carefully consider the president’s recommendations, but my priorities will continue to be making sure our national defense, national laboratories, the National Institutes of Health and national parks have the resources they need.”

TVA officials said, “TVA was created by an Act of Congress in 1933; and Congress has always had the power to change the role or structure of TVA. Implementing the stated proposal in the President’s 2019 budget of selling TVA’s transmission assets would require Congress to act legislatively. In accordance with existing legislation, TVA will continue to pursue its mission of improving the quality of life for people in the region through our work in energy, the environment and economic development,” said TVA’s President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Johnson. 

"The TVA transmission assets described in the budget schedule include more than 16,000 miles of line paid for by the power customers of the Tennessee Valley over the past 85 years. The transmission system is an integral part of TVA’s power system, which has delivered power at 99.999 percent reliability for the past twenty years. TVA is also a major reliability coordinator for large sections of the U.S. power grid, helping ensure that America’s vital energy infrastructure runs safely and reliably every day. 

"TVA does not receive any funds from the Federal Government, but rather is completely self-funded from its power revenues and the public debt markets, and TVA’s obligations are not guaranteed by the Federal government. TVA has among the lowest power rates in the country, which in combination with the high reliability of its transmission system, have led to significant economic expansion in U.S. manufacturing and other industries and businesses in the Tennessee Valley. Over the last five years, TVA has supported the creation or retention of 400,000 jobs and $48 billion in new capital investment.

“Our hard-working employees remain focused on serving our customers and working safely and productively for the people of the Tennessee Valley,” said Johnson. “We remain committed to our mission of providing clean, reliable, low cost power, economic development and environmental stewardship. This is our top priority.”


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