Tennessee Senators fired back at a proposal Thursday at a Trump Administration proposal to sell the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) electric transmission lines, calling the plan “loony” and “harmful” for the agency.
The move is one of several ideas President Donald Trump floated Thursday in a plan to re-organize parts of the federal government. The 131-page plan called “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations” was made by executive order and outlines a number of ideas to streamline government.
”Americans routinely shop online, use smart phones to order rides, and get electronic money transfer services, and yet are forced to deal with multiple agencies and excessive bureaucracy when they interact with federal agencies,” reads the proposal.
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The TVA proposal begins on page 66.
The proposal would, among other things, privatize the U.S. Postal Service, spin off federal responsibility for air traffic control to a nonprofit agency, end the federal oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and combine the Departments of Education and Labor into a single agency, called the Department of Education and the Workforce.
But it was Trump’s proposal to sell TVA’s transmission lines that drew criticism of Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander.
“While TVA has not received any taxpayer funding since 1999 and has taken positive steps in recent years to pay down its debt, I do think it’s valuable to evaluate, from time to time, reforms that could cause TVA to function more effectively for Tennessee taxpayers and ratepayers,” said Corker in a statement. “That said, at the end of the day, I continue to believe that selling TVA’s transmission lines would be harmful to the Tennessee Valley and remains a very unlikely outcome.”
Alexander did not mince words and said the idea threatens to increase power bills for consumers.
“This loony idea of selling TVA and TVA’s transmission lines seems to keep popping up regardless of who is president, and each of those proposals have all been soundly rejected by Congress,” Alexander said. “When President Obama proposed selling TVA in 2013, all it did was undermine TVA’s credit, raise interest rates on TVA’s debt and threaten to increase electric bills for 9 million ratepayers.
”TVA has among the lowest power rates in the country which, along with its reliability, help bring numerous new businesses to the region.”
According to Trump’s proposal, selling the 50,000 miles of power lines and other assets to a private company would “encourage a more efficient allocation of economic resources and mitigate unnecessary risk to taxpayers.” It would save the government $9.5 billion over 10 years, according to the report.
The federal government’s role in electricity production and marketing dates largely to the New Deal, proposal says, and has expanded that role since then.
“Today, a strong justification no longer exists for the federal government to own and operate these systems,” reads the proposal. “The private sector already meets the vast majority of the nation’s electricity needs.
“Private ownership of transmission assets could result in more efficient operations and capital improvements while reducing the subsidies (both implicit and explicit) that the federal government now provides to the respective regions’ ratepayers.”
The Trump proposal also notes that Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama have all proposed selling the assets.