Chattanooga Times Free Press
August 8, 2009
TVA, the great spendthrift of our time, knows how to spend billions of OPM (other people’s money) but can only cut back millions in their wastrel ways.
As TVA hunkers down to protect its bonus scheme, wild statements spurt out from management that when put together show an out of control federal agency with no idea which way to turn.
There are but a few remaining members of TVA’s board of directors. Of nine authorized seats, only five are serving within their appointments; one other, William Sansom, remains on the board even after his term expired May 18, 2009. While this is permitted under their by-laws, any decisions he participates in would be under a cloud. Five members constitute a quorum.
Apparently fearful of protests, the last board meeting on July 21 was held in absentia by telephone. The main purpose of the meeting was to rush through the hiring of a new public relations vice president. This is a typical TVA knee-jerk reaction by management to hire more people instead of getting at the root of their management problems. Likely this would call for deep cuts in management staff and their bonuses.
But TVA’s obtuse management and the accommodating board do not believe there is a forest beyond a thousand TVA trees. Its part of the “TVA culture” identified in the OIG report.
The next scheduled board meeting August 20 in Knoxville, Tennessee promises to be very tightly controlled and then only to approve a few board actions.
As TVA hunkers down waiting for the next serious blows to its very existence, continued blurts of uncertainty will verifying its own ineptitude and its inability to understand why they’re coming at TVA from all directions.
TVA, its time to throw in the towel.
Also see http://norsworthyopinion.com/tvaanddoetiptoethroughthetulips.aspx
Before ink dries on TVA OIG report . . .
August 6, 2009
TVA’s a slick one alright, first they’ve conned the TVPPA into financing construction of new power plants and now they’ve conned them into going “partners” in a “smart grid” scheme. All at no cost to the ratepayers; of course, that is a false statement.
Is there no end to TVA’s backdoor financing schemes to protect their bonus structure?
TVA has proved to be untrustworthy time and again; most lately by TVA’s own Office of the Inspector General who flatly stated that TVA was more interested in protecting its legal flanks than their customers’ pocketbooks.
If that logic is true, then TVA has illegally entered into a scheme to let another newly formed entity of TVPPA* (Seven States Power Corporation) finance new construction and according to TVA itself, it wants to receive “stimulus” financing for a new “smart grid”. The latter technology has not been proved to be cost effective but when and if installed, it would be financed by users of TVA electricity, not the DOE.
The way TVA is financially structured it cannot proceed without greatly increasing electricity rates much of which has been caused by their own negligence and inept management.
So another federal agency, the EPA, has stripped away TVA’s authority to control the Kingston disaster cleanup. TVA must get approval from the EPA to proceed. Then comes DOE with some federal financing for a program, “smart grid”, which should be funded wholly from TVA funds.
The TVA Act says that TVA is to be “self-financing”; a phrase often used by TVA to describe its independence from congressionally appropriated funding. TVA has a debt of over $25 billion; so much for “self-financing”.
For decades, actually from the beginning of TVA, it has wanted to have it both ways; to have the flexibility of a private corporation with the power (eminent domain) of the federal government.
Flawed from the beginning, TVA remains very badly flawed and continues its trickery and dissembling ways of extorting even more taxes (through electricity rates) of its 9 million customers. These captured customers pay $10 billion annually to the federal government through 158 TVA distributors and directly by large federal and commercial users.
There are ways to stop the nonsense, the mismanagement of a federal agency.
For some suggestions how, see http://norsworthyopinion.com
*The Tennessee Valley Public Power Association; represents 158 distributors of TVA electricity; is the lobbying arm in Washington, D.C. of the TVA. http://www.tvppa.com/conferences/annual.htm TVPPA paid $70,000 to Morgan Meguire, a Washington lobbying firm, in FY 2008.
I’ve checked with the “Wizard” and he says the odds are that the TVA soon will be abolished – or further expanded into the nationalization of all electricity grids in the United States.
“You can never satisfy the extremists or the kooks even if we spent the entire federal budget on this problem,” Rep. John Duncan said.
Duncan, ever the TVA apologist, has made his bed and now must sleep in it. He, in effect, condones TVA's gross negligence and puts the negative reports about TVA in the "kook" category. Then count me as one of those "kooks" too.
I have been reporting on the many mismanagements of the TVA for several years and there has been resonance to my views. I have heard from many well respected former TVA employees who tried to report some of TVA's errors in judgment and safety violations but the "TVA culture" slapped them down.
For my latest article, see http://norsworthyopinion.com/mckennareport.aspx
TVA self-flagellation not enough
July 25, 2009
“…employees (are) taking initiative and making significant progress in remedying years of deferred maintenance.” (McKenna report July 21, 2009)
Don’t say I didn’t warn you; “I told you so” many times.
McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP was hired by the TVA Board of Directors after the Kingston disaster “to advise the Board on its legal duties and potential litigation exposure and to provide other advice related to Board oversight . " More..
The stench begins when you “follow the money”. Sure, TVA “works” with the Office of the Inspector General a whole $19 million dollar’s worth on TVA’s payroll. Just the appearance of impropriety of an auditor’s actions should be enough to make a congressional committee cringe.
In this case, I have seen the TVA OIG overlook obvious areas to investigate while “doing their duty” with wrist slaps for other matters.
There are many instances begging for criminal prosecutions. Serious safety and health violations have gone unchecked or have dragged on for far too long. In another instance, a TVA employee was forced to resign and to seek early retirement because of being incredibly harassed and intimidated by being presented a noose in his desk drawer. Part of the “TVA culture”.
What is needed is transparency and objective investigations that are timely and expeditious.
TVA and its cohorts seem not to want to reveal something. If diverting $19 million off the shoulders of TVA ratepayers is not a good idea, why not? Peering through TVA’s cloudy windows leaves more doubt than confidence that it is trying to save money for the ratepayers.
What is needed is a good window washing crew.
Realizing, of course, that the TVA is old hat at being sued, they drag these cases out ad infinitum and will not run out of money in doing so.
Also, I would not recommend that the judiciary run or oversee any kind of project. First, it is an improper role for them in our three-part government and secondly, the result is guaranteed to be unsatisfactory to all but the TVA.
I have suggested that the sitting president (George Bush) immediately form a Task Group to tackle the problem - today, not sometime "in the near future".
If this president refuses to take action, it should be incumbent on the new one to take similar action.
In the 1964 Alaska earthquake, President Lyndon Johnson sent his man there to work miracles in that disaster. His name was Dwight Ink with whom I later worked on his staff at HUD.
This is no time for Katrina-like federal responses; unfortunately, it is the laggard federal government who must tackle this disaster. Surely, there is someone with backbone who can get the job done.
I have written extensively about the TVA and have advocated its dissolution, its liquidation to try and pay off some of its enormous $25 billion debt and to let free enterprise run the utility as it should be run. (See http://norsworthyopinion.com )
The nonsensical directions the TVA seem to be heading are familiar to a time in the 1980s when budget-busting ill-conceived increases in electricity production by TVA were rampant.
How about a present $25 billion debt from TVA’s mismanagements? Talk about a federal agency that has been off-track so many times it cannot even find the rails!
TVA started as water-diverter (dams) and fertilizer maker to become what it is now – at the whims of a triumvirate directorship for most of its 75 years of wilderness wandering – a huge non-competitive electricity producer, in direct competition with all of the surrounding free-enterprise utilities.
Today’s “new management” is just as bad; “centralizing and streamlining” TVA so someone, presumably the CEO, could sit at one laptop computer and control all aspects of 33,000 megawatts of electric power in TVA’s 80,000 square-mile domain is simply mindboggling.
A bad management decision. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on May 21, 2008 issued a scathing report on the lack of security of TVA computer systems, of “weaknesses” that made them possibly vulnerable to cyber-attack at numerous points in the “centralized” system.
That management decision, to centralize command and control of TVA’s computer systems, is so egregious that I have called for the resignations of the CEO, Tom Kilgore, and the six board members that approved that atrocious "centralized" plan that unduly exposes millions of citizen in the region to possible disastrous results. And the rest of the country also.
In the interim, I have also suggested that the controls of the TVA power systems be transferred to the Department of Energy where dissolution plans will be prepared for the sale of TVA’s assets, their subsequent advertisement and sale to the highest bidder(s).
Some suggested procedures in this regard can be found at http://norsworthyopinion.com , drill down several articles.