According to Colignon The Tennessee Valley Authority was created as a result of an emergency charter in May 1933 in an attempt to increase service delivery of navigation, flood control, electricity generation as well as provide other economic development initiatives in the Tennessee (1997). This was as a result of the fact that this region was greatly affected by the great depression. The formation of the corporation was as a result of relentless efforts by Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska. This initiative was intended to strike an economic balance in the region as a way of putting into constructive use federal expertise to rapidly modernize the region’s economy and society. However, the services by TVA cover a larger part of Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky. This is considered as one of the first government effort to modernize Third World agrarian societies.
“Currently TVA is the nation's largest public power company, providing electric power to over nine million customers in the Tennessee Valley” (Creese, 1990). The company acts primarily as the major electric power distributor operating in the region with its customer base spreading from government sectors to private institutions and household. The power that is generated by the company comes from dams that provide hydro electric power, nuclear power plants and combustion turbines. In 1920 at the period when the great depression took place, more and more American began to welcome the idea of public ownership of utilities. However, this concept of government owned generation facilities that sell to publicly owned distribution facilities has always been at the centre of a heated debate. According to most people, private companies charge huge amounts of money and do not employ fair operating practices at the expense of the consumers.
However, critics of this concept argue that government participation in electricity generation business would much more lead to a misuse of hydro electric sites. This explains why other agencies wishing to operate like the TVA have failed. One practical example of such failure is the Columbia Valley Authority for the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest. The main reason why many people supported the TVA project is as a result of the fact that many power consumers in the region benefit from lower-cost electricity supplied by TVA. In addition to this, Hargrove says that supporters note that agency's management of the Tennessee River system without appropriated federal funding saves federal taxpayers millions of dollars annually(1963) However, an opposing side argue that the project is a socialist idea and that the project operated in a ‘hidden loss’ scheme where a lot of employment opportunities and development of factories have been hindered since the govern emit in some way restricts the consumers form spending their money according to their wishes.
Most recently, The Tennessee Valley Authority announced about its plans to stop the use of the much older fire generation units in an attempt of being a low-cost and cleaner energy provider by the year 2020. This initiative will help the corporation reduce sulphur dioxide emission by a greater percentage keeping in mind that sulphur dioxide is one of the major components of acid rain. The integrated plan that began almost two years ago involved extensive consultation with technical and economical analysis as well as public input greatly considered. This is in an overall attempt by the corporation to line its goals and strategies with the emerging trends both in the industry and globally. However, we must look at both sides of such an upgrade. The corporation has invested an estimated $5.3 billion since 1977 to reduce coal-fired power plant emissions. The company has also agreed to settle $10 million civil penalty hence end the cost of legal proceedings and reduce any further cost in the future with respect to potential disputes and regulatory compliance concerns.
Tennessee Valley Authority also aims at building more electricity generation power points mostly nuclear power plants that seem to be the most effective sources of power. However, modern day world has various concerns regarding nuclear power plants and facilities nationwide among them safety concerns. The recent nuclear crisis in Japan is a clear indication that indeed the situation regarding power generation requires complete consideration and evaluation. The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to build new reactors and re-license the old ones is now a subject of concerns among diverse interest groups. The U.S. Nuclear regulatory Commission has been put to task not to license any more nuclear reactors until the whole system incorporates its regulatory system to avert any other incidences such as the Fukushima incidence. This initiative therefore is faced by the federal law that requires corporations to complete supplemental environmental impact statements before new licenses or re-issuing of any old licenses can be carried out.
Most of the nuclear power plants in the U.S were licensed in the early 60s and 70s. This implies that most permits were issued based on preliminary designs. This was with a complete disregard of safety issues and concerns. This is one of the main reasons why the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission was established. This implies that for Tennessee Valley Authority to implement its strategic plants in line with future projections and goals, the corporation will have to address in a much grater context some of the licensing issues such as inspections, tests, analyses and acceptance criteria. This should be done more thoroughly than it would have been done back then. The process of licensing the construction of new power plants has also become more involving with public input being incorporated. This process allows the public to review and comment on the design upfront. The company therefore is seen to enjoy public support but after the Japan’s nuclear disaster, the public perception regarding future construction of new nuclear power plants is questionable.