TVA Taps Johnson as Next CEO

Incoming TVA CEO Bill Johnson (Image: TVA)

Incoming TVA CEO Bill Johnson (Image: TVA)

The Tennessee Valley Authority has picked former Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson as its new chief executive.

Johnson was ousted from his position when North Carolina-based Progress merged with Duke Power, after serving as chief executive of the merged company for just one day.

At a press conference in Knoxville this morning, Johnson was reluctant to talk about his exit from the company.

“Duke decided they didn’t want me as the CEO. My view of that is that it was their right to do that. I’ve testified about this publicly. I’ve said everything I know about it, and I don’t think there’s any new news there.”

Johnson reportedly walked away with a $44 million payout.

He replaces Tom Kilgore, who will retire as TVA CEO at the end of the year.

Kilgore also worked as an executive at Progress Energy, before being tapped to lead TVA in 2005.

For the last few years, TVA has been touting what it calls ‘a balanced portfolio’ of power generation, adding natural gas and solar to its existing coal and nuclear plants. Company officials say it will mean lower rates for its customers in the long run, since the utility won’t be dependent one or two energy sources.

Johnson says he’ll continue that strategy when he takes the reins at TVA next year.

 

“Resource mix, fuel diversity, energy demand, efficiency, renewables, energy security – all these things and more make predicting, planning and executing for the future more difficult.”

 

But critics are already questioning Johnson’s commitment to renewable power. In a statement, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, says Johnson mismanaged projects at Progress Energy. They cite the company’s botched attempt to replace a generator on a nuclear plant in Florida, which will cost more than a billion dollars to fix.

TVA has its own problems with nuclear projects, including Watts Bar Unit 2, which currently under construction and more than two billion dollars over budget.

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