U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander today strongly criticized legislation that would fundamentally alter the structure and oversight of the Tennessee Valley Authority, calling it ‘short-sighted and misdirected.’
Introduced by Kentucky senators Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning, the bill (S. 864) would require the TVA to allow its transmission system to be used by others at the expense of existing customers. It would also place the TVA under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and call for studies on its debt level and the potential privatization or sale of TVA’s assets.
Alexander said the effect of the bill would be to “raise electric rates for TVA customers, make it more difficult to attract good jobs to Tennessee, and actually deprive Kentuckians of a future option for reliable, low cost power – even those not now within the TVA distribution area.”
“This legislation would effectively destroy TVA as we know it, putting it on a path toward deregulation, privatization and the sale of its assets,” Alexander said. “Since Congress authorized wholesale deregulation of electricity in 1992, I have yet to find one single instance in which deregulation has resulted in lower prices. However, I have found plenty where electric rates shot up sharply.”
The best evidence that TVA is an important option for Kentuckians, he added, is the decision made in the last year by four Kentucky utilities to rejoin TVA after giving notice that they might leave.
“TVA has an excellent new board of directors, and Kentucky has strong representation on it. We should give the board an opportunity to continue working on its strategic plan so that we can work together to make sure ratepayers can continue to rely on a strong TVA capable of delivering a large volume of clean, reliable and low cost power.”