The Obama Administration says the Tennessee Valley Authority has a better handle on its financial situation. But they’re still floating the possibility of the putting the nation’s largest public utility in private hands.
The President’s budget proposal released Tuesday praises TVA, saying it’s taken significant steps in the past year to cut expenses. The agency has announced it’s shutting down eight coal-fired power plants and offering buyouts to long-time employees.
“We are pleased the Administration has recognized TVA’s efforts in improving our financial outlook and supports our ongoing operating and financial direction,” TVA CEO Bill Johnson said in a statement.
But the White House says it’s still interested in exploring options to end the federal government’s role in TVA. From the budget:
The Administration continues to believe that reducing or eliminating the Federal Government’s role in programs such as TVA, which have achieved their original objectives, can help mitigate risk to taxpayers. The Administration recognizes the important role TVA serves in the Tennessee Valley and stands ready to work with the Congress and TVA’s stakeholders to explore options to end Federal ties to TVA, including alternatives such as a transfer of ownership to State or local stakeholders.
The Obama Administration first floated the idea last year. Tennessee politicians spoke out against it at the time. Senator Lamar Alexander said selling the utility could pose a threat to national security because of its role in making nuclear weapons. Senator Bob Corker has said he’s against privatization, but he could support turning TVA into a non-profit corporation, or transferring ownership to power distributors.