By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
It was one of the boldest efforts of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Great Depression era New Deal. The federal government would build dams, massive lakes, electric power stations, and would wield unprecedented power to economically transform a multi-state region. Prior to the TVA, the Tennessee River valley was flood prone and electricity did not reach many of the people in the area. Economists can still debate whether or not this was the ideal role for government; but nearly 80 years late the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is still in business and operating as a major electric utility, including nuclear power plants. That could all change as President Barack H. Obama has proposed selling the TVA to the highest bidder.
TVA is the largest electric company in Congressman Mo Brooks’ (R) from Huntsville district. Rep. Brooks said in a written statement, “President Obama claims he is considering the sale of TVA to ‘help put the Nation on a sustainable fiscal path.’ President Obama’s claim is unsupportable and inexplicable for three reasons. First, the TVA is self-sufficient. The TVA receives no federal taxpayer subsidy. The federal government is not responsible for TVA’s capital debt. Hence, the TVA does not contribute one dime to America’s out-of-control deficits or troubling accumulated debt. Second, there is no indication that the TVA’s non-waterway assets, after deduction for capital cost and debt burden, can be sold for a profit. Further, any profit, if any, would be so small as to have no noticeable effect on America’s deficits or debt. Third, if President Obama is truly concerned about and motivated by America’s ‘sustainable fiscal path,’ the President would be proposing substantial cuts to foreign aid, entitlements, welfare give-away and other programs that drive America’s deficits and threaten America with a debilitating insolvency and bankruptcy. The absence of substantive spending cuts in President Obama’s Budget suggest the President either has not done his homework or is motivated by something unrelated to America’s ‘sustainable fiscal path.’”
Rep. Brooks continued, “Notwithstanding that the President’s proposal to consider selling TVA comes from left field, and apparently with little or no prior consultation with Congress, I am willing to consider the President’s proposal to sell TVA assets that are unrelated to TVA’s locks, dams, flood control responsibilities and navigable waterway duties provided the President can make that case to Tennessee Valley citizens that doing so will lower the costs of electricity to TVA consumers and is in America’s interests. Quite frankly, I am skeptical the President can make that case.”
TVA’s power service territory includes most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia. 9 million Americans covering 80,000 square miles get their electricity from TVA.