Obama Budget Calls for Privatizing the Tennessee Valley Authority



President Obama's proposed 2014 budget includes an item free marketeers can rally behind: "reducing or eliminating" the federal government's role in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the nation's largest publicly owned utility.

Naturally, both of Tennessee's Republican senators oppose the proposal.

Via Bloomberg News:

 "The odd thing is that a bunch of Rs are defending the most liberal, collectivist, state-managed thing ever undertaken in the United States," said [Mike] McKenna, [a Republican energy lobbyist] whose clients include the Atlanta-based utility Southern Co. (NSC) that could benefit from a sale of the TVA, in an e-mail. "TVA was the brainchild of the near-communists in the Roosevelt administration."

Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican who opposes government subsidies for energy production, called the proposal "one more bad idea in a budget full of bad ideas," in a statement. He said the sale might lead to higher energy costs for his constituents without providing much money to the U.S. to pay down the debt.

…Consumers in Alabama and Tennessee, the TVA's largest service areas, pay less for electricity than the national average, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration.

…The TVA has 13,600 employees now, according the budget proposal. The workforce is expected to fall 2.2 percent to 13,300 next year.

The idea of selling the TVA has few supporters in Congress, said Representative Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, in an interview.

He and his Republican colleagues most often disagree on the "virtues of government." That's not so in this case, he said.

From the administration's proposed budget:

TVA's power service territory includes most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Virginia, covering 80,000 square miles and serving more than nine million people.

Jim Powell outlined some of the TVA's greatest hits for Reason back in 2009 including: kicking 15,000 people out of their homes, flooding an area larger than the state of Rhode Island and generally being a taxpayer-funded boondoggle from the get-go.

H/T: Walter Olson.