The Tennessee Valley Authority celebrated its 80th birthday on Friday, but officials insist America's biggest government utility shouldn't be retired or sold off yet even though President Obama has suggested studying the idea.
"TVA's mission is as relevant and essential as ever," TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson said during an anniversary celebration of the agency among employees in Knoxville. "The good jobs and quality investments we help bring to the Valley have never been more important to the people of our region."
President Franklin Roosevelt signed the TVA Act on May 18, 1933, creating what has become the nation's largest public utility and a significant economic driver and environmental steward for the Valley. TVA serves parts of seven states.
But with more than $24 billion of debt, the federal utility also has added to Uncle Sam's overall debt. In the president's budget proposal released in April, the Office of Management and Budgeposed a strategic review of TVA that could lead to selling the U.S.-owned power company and "help put the nation on a sustainable fiscal path."
OMB has yet to release any specific recommendations, however, and Tennessee's U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both Republicans, have criticized the president for suggesting TVA might be privatized.
There was little mention of the Washington batttle over TVA during Friday's anniversary celebration.
"We provide the energy, manage the resources and work in harmony with others to make our region better and move our nation closer to a cleaner energy future," Johnson said.
In 2012 alone, TVA helped attract or retain more than 42,000 jobs across the Valley. Earlier this year, TVA's integrated system of dams controlled heavy rains by averting $800 million in flood damage one month and setting a record for hydroelectric generation a month later.
As part of its celebration, TVA launched an online scavenger hunt on Friday with a list of TVA-related current and historical questions at www.tva.com/80th. Rules and answers can be found on TVA's public website at www.tva.com.
Entries with correct answers to all questions received by June 17 will be entered into a drawing for a free In-Home Energy Evaluation from TVA and their participating local power company. Through IHEE, homeowners receive an on-site inspection, energy efficiency advice and up to $500 in reimbursements on eligible recommended home improvements when completed. Alternate prizes will be available if the winner's local power company does not participate in IHEE.
Complete scavenger hunt contest rules are available at www.tva.com/80th.