Today is Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The time for real change with TVA is now

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To the Editor:

With nearly every home in Middle Tennessee suffering “sticker shock” due to the high billings for electricity, it is difficult to remember the promise of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Program (REA) which was, through agencies like TVA, to provide flood control, recreation, economic development, and electricity generation for the people of areas like the Tennessee Valley. 

In May 1933, when the agency was signed into law by FDR, the region was in sad shape with respect to economic development, even by depression standards. Many families subsisted on as little as $100 with the average income only being $639 a year.

In the 1940s-1960s, affordable power was supplied by the government-owned agency and the region flourished as plentiful water and affordable power attracted industry to our area. In the period between 1970 and 1980 things went terribly wrong and the cost of electricity increased 500 percent in that decade alone. Public outrage was evident in every newspaper and on every broadcast and a massive overhaul of the agency was begun under the leadership of Marvin T. Runyon.

With the cardinal rule of the universe being “things tend to move from order to disorder” it seems we are moving into another era of disorder as we witness intolerable spills that flood hundreds of acres and threaten life and property. This, along with uncontrolled and unexplained rises in energy costs, to a people lured to the use of electricity in all facets of home operation by cheap prices, is creating a foreshadowing of the decade of the ’70s. 

My question is where is the outrage? Why are we not demanding better from a government agency that has little competition and no requirement for profitability? The only real control on such an agency is not free market but pressure from the people who own the agency – the taxpayers. The time for Real Change is now, before rates climb even higher.

Bob ChaffinLebanon

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