With staff levels at the lowest point in the history of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the federal utility is preparing to consolidate its remaining Knoxville staff into one of its three major office buildings and sell or lease one of its twin towers and the Summer Place Office building to another business.
TVA directors today authorized the conveyance of TVA's East Tower and the Summer Place buildings and parking garage as part of a plan to consolidate remaining TVA employees here into the West Tower, which will be renovated over the next five years.
TVA made a similar consolidation and is also undergoing a renovation of its Chattanooga Office Complex that houses its Office of Power in downtown Chattanooga.
The TVA office towers in Knoxville, built in 1976, and the Summer Place Office Building, added in the 1990s, house the corporate headquarters for America's biggest government owned utility.
TVA Executive Vice President Mike Skaggs said TVA wants to stay downtown and support Knoxville but it no longer needs so much office space. Skaggs said each of the towers has about a half million square feet.
"We are still negotiating on the deal," Skaggs said, declining to identify who might move into the largely vacant TVA offices.
TVA President Bill Johnson said "we have some great interest in these buildings now."
"I'm hoping we can do something to the outside of these buildings to make them more attractive," Johnson said.
From its employment peak in 1981 when TVA had 51,709 employees, the utility has cut its staff by nearly 80 percent, although some of its work has been shifted to contract workers. In the past year, TVA cut its staff by 650 employees and the utility is projecting to trim its workforce by another 14 net jobs next year and an additional 114 jobs in fiscal 2019.
TVA's staff is projected to fall below 10,000 for the first time ever within a couple of years as TVA completes most of its capital construction and looks for additional productivity gains.
Since 2013 when Johnson became CEO, TVA has cut its annual and operating expenses by more than $800 million and trimmed its staff by more than 2,000. Most of the staff cuts have occurred through attrition and voluntary resignations and retirements.
"We continue to build momentum by figuring out how to eliminate work by focusing on what is the critical part of the mission of what we do," TVA Chief Financial Officer John Thomas said.