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U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander says President Barack Obama's plan to consider selling the Tennessee Valley Authority has already cost hundreds of millions of dollars - even if the nation's largest public utility is never sold.
The Tennessee Republican said TVA bonds lost about $500 million in value after the president's announcement last month, largely because of uncertainty over whether the utility would be sold.
Alexander said customers in the seven states served by the TVA will likely pay more for electricity as a result.
"I think there's somebody with a green eyeshade down there in the Office of Management and Budget who just thinks it's a 'cool' idea to talk about selling the Tennessee Valley Authority," Alexander said at a Senate hearing Wednesday. "We don't appreciate that approach -- it's an ill-conceived, reckless approach."
Alexander asked Acting Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman about the administration's ongoing review of TVA at a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development hearing. The Office of Management and Budget, which suggested that a study be done about the merits of selling TVA, is still studying the idea.
"Don't you think it would have been wiser, if somebody wanted to sell TVA, that they might sit down and have a private discussion about it first, rather than send the value of the bonds plunging?" Alexander asked.
The senator said TVA is the nation's only supplier of tritium -- an important component in the production of nuclear weapons -- and will operate a small modular reactor that would mark innovation in the production of nuclear energy.
Poneman said he had not personally been consulted, but said that TVA's importance on a range of fronts would likely be part of the administration's review. Poneman said the department is "indispensably tied" to TVA's tritium production at this point.