Site Selection names TVA as top 10 utility for economic development

Site Selection names TVA as top 10 utility for economic development

September 7th, 2018 by Dave Flessner in Breaking News

For the 13th consecutive year, Site Selection magazine has named the Tennessee Valley Authority among the top 10 utilities in the United States for economic development.

Last year, TVA's economic development program aided in the recruitment or expansion of $8.3 billion of new corporate investment. Collectively, those projects are expected to add 70,000 new jobs in TVA's 7-state region. 

Among the major projects TVA helped land last year was the $360 million tire production plant by the Finland-based Nokian Tyres in Dayton, Tennessee and the $1.6 billion Toyota-Mazda joint venture in Huntsville, Alabama.

TVA is poised to do even better this year. At the TVA board meeting last month, the federal utility disclosed that it had already created or retained $10.2 billion in capital investment so far in 2018. Those projects are expected to add 54,000 jobs across the Tennessee Valley.

"TVA was founded in 1933 to bring jobs and investment to the Valley," said John Bradley, senior vice president of economic development for TVA. "It's ingrained in our mission of service, and it underscores much of what we do to make our region a great place to live and work. We don't do it for investors—we do it for the people of the Valley."

TVA provides both technical support in industrial recruitment and reduced energy rates and loan funds under its Valley Advantage programs. TVA's investment credit offered for major new job-creating industries provides a credit to monthly power bills that lowers energy costs by 10 to 20 percent, according to TVA's web site.

But TVA does not detail its incentives because TVA President Bill Johnson said revealing what it gives to businesses "would kill the golden goose immediately." The TVA board has approved a number of industrial rate incentives that have helped improve TVA's relative standing among U.S. utilities and is now among the top 10 percent of the 100 biggest U.S. utilities offering the lowest cost electricity prices for industrial customers, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Consumer groups have complained that TVA has been moving to favor big business over individual consumers, but TVA said its programs are helping to generate more jobs, tax revenues and income for all of the 9 million people who live in the Tennessee Valley.

Last year, TVA worked to help land a new solar farm in Memphis, added new transmission lines and switching stations near the Golden Triangle in Mississippi and added a new Aerospace and Defense Target Market initiative. TVA also continued its TVA Megasites Program, the InvestPrep Program and New Legacy Sites.

In its September 2018 edition, Site Selection noted a recent Wall Street Journal article cited two cities in TVA's region —Huntsville, Alabama and Clarksville, Tennessee — as among the nation's hottest high-tech hot spots due to the combination of abundant clean and affordable power and low cost of living.

Based upon this year's results, Bradley said it's a good bet that TVA will grace Site Selector's list again next year.