This is a guest post written by Jenn Galler, SACE’s Regional Organizer Intern.
On August 22nd I joined concerned Tennesseans in Knoxville at the TVA board meeting to voice our concerns. Customers are tired of TVA’s lack of innovation, transparency, and affordability, and we need answers. One of the biggest issues is high bills. TVA has long touted their low rates, but rates are not the whole picture. As a customer, you pay a bill, not a rate, and bills in our region are among the highest in the nation.
After a public comment section with about ten speakers using the term “runaround” to describe TVA’s actions, TVA unsurprisingly ran around our statements and questions. The President of TVA, Bill Johnson, even quoted our phrase “runaround,” yet still did not provide an explanation or answer to why TVA is raising rates while lowering the rate for large industrial customers. Or, why they are making it harder for customers to go solar. Or why they have an overall lack of transparency for a company that was created for the people.
A couple days later on August 25th, in response to the board meeting, Chattanoogan’s got creative and hosted a fun stunt race called the “TVA Run-A-Round 0.5K” in Chattanooga. We physically ran around the TVA offices to highlight how they are running around our questions. This event was about giving TVA a taste of their own medicine, but it was also about something more: building a volunteer base and growing the Renew TN campaign. It was a fun way to incorporate people and introduce them into Renew Tennessee campaign, getting locals further involved to spread the message and increase our people power. A great group of Tennesseans showed up to give TVA the run around: not only did they run around TVA but they spoke, passed out Renew TN petitions, took pictures, and are spreading the message of clean, affordable energy that our state needs to know.
We had a great media response as well. The Chattanooga Times Free Press came out to cover the story and we ended up making front page of the paper. Channel 12 news also came out and featured a minute of great coverage on their nightly news.
The TVA Run Around 0.5K is over, but TVA continues to give us the run around on clean, affordable energy. Tennesseans deserve better. Renew TN isn’t just about TVA, but TVA is a large focus of the work right now because of the policies they are implementing on Tennesseans. Renew Tennessee aims to get Tennesseans involved in energy issues that affect them directly. If you’re interested in signing the petition, coming to an event near you, or getting involved in many other ways, go to RenewTN.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved today!