NotPublicPower.org Spotlights TVA’s Lack of Public Accountability
Knoxville, Tenn. (February 13, 2019) – As large decisions with global implications are expected to be announced by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in the near future, today, for the second time, the TVA is intentionally separating public comment from the quarterly Board meeting, being held in Chattanooga. When TVA initially shunted public comment to the side at the previous board meeting in November of 2018, they chose not to live stream the listening session, and there does not appear to be a plan to live stream today’s listening session either. Holding public comment on a second day further limits the public’s access to the TVA board, as those speaking need to take time out of their work days to travel and attend two meetings to even have a chance at hearing any type of response from the board, instead of just one day as they had in the past. A lack of reliable live streaming is also a transparency issue, both for the customers who are unable to attend, as well as for journalists seeking to cover the dealings of the utility.
Customers and elected officials throughout the Valley and around the nation are starting to pay attention to the litany of TVA’s public disservices. Tennessee Congressman Tim Burchett made TVA’s lack of transparency the focus of his first bill introduced to Congress, stating that TVA should do more of its ratepayers’ business in public and calling for Board committee meetings to be opened. Congressman Steve Cohen joined Burchett in a letter calling for answers and congressional oversight of TVA, amid news that TVA admitted potential liability in the 40 deaths and over 400 illnesses resulting from the clean-up of the Kingston Coal Ash spill of 2008. In TVA’s quarterly earnings report, it was revealed that TVA customers may actually be footing the bill for the treatment of the workforce poisoned by this horrific event. This admission and plan to charge customers was buried in the report, and likely only reached public awareness because of reporting by the Knoxville News Sentinel.
To underscore the growing list of ways TVA is keeping the public out of public power, Dr. Stephen Smith, Executive Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, announced the launch of a new website dedicated to holding TVA and Tennessee Valley Local Power Companies accountable:www.NotPublicPower.org. Dr. Smith provided the following statement:
“At a time where TVA is making major decisions about the future of large power plants and worker health, and adding stealth fees that increase small customers’ bills, this self regulated federal monopoly is becoming increasingly less transparent. The word ‘public’ used to mean something in ‘public power’; now it is used as an excuse to avoid oversight and accountability.
“The continuation today of TVA’s ‘pilot’ program ‘listening session,’ forcing the public to travel on a different day and to a separate location, and thus preventing the public from directly addressing the TVA Board members at quarterly board meeting, is simply the latest evidence that TVA is completely out of touch with the people they are tasked to serve.
“This why we created the new website www.NotPublicPower.org to document how TVA is taking the Public out of Public Power. We are asking people from around the region to share their stories of how TVA and their operatives are abusing their power. We hope this information will lead to the necessary changes both large and small that protect the public interest.”
About the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Since 1985, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has worked to promote responsible energy choices to ensure clean, safe and healthy communities throughout the Southeast. Learn more at www.cleanenergy.org.