Obama still wants to cut federal ties to TVA

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama signaled Tuesday he still wants the federal government to end its ownership of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

His proposed 2015 fiscal year budget praises TVA for undertaking over the past year "a major internal review" and having "taken significant steps to improve its future operating and financial performance."

But then it adds: "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."

Obama first broached the idea of selling the TVA last year in his proposed 2014 budget, and it immediately met with criticism from the Tennessee congressional delegation.

One of the issues pointed to last year was the TVA being more than $30 billion in debt. Members of the delegation said that, after deductions for its debt, selling the agency would probably cost taxpayers money.

In its latest budget. the administration praises TVA for committing to resolving "its capital financing constraints" and that it "supports TVA's ongoing operating and financial initiatives and intends to closely monitor TVA's performance."

Regardless, some in the delegation remain critical of the idea.

"The president's budget writers should spend more time figuring out how to reduce runaway entitlement spending, instead of thinking up new ways to sell TVA," Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander said in a statement.

Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Frog Jump, said: "My top priority is to keep the price of power as low as possible for ratepayers. If the president is serious about lowering energy prices, he should start with the low-hanging fruit by approving the Keystone Pipeline XL, which has tremendous bipartisan support."

But Sen. Bob Corker, also a Republican, said, "As I've said before, I think it's valuable to evaluate from time to time reforms that could cause TVA to function more effectively for taxpayers and ratepayers."


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