The Tennessee Valley Authority supplanted the private enterprise Tennessee Electric Power Co. in the 1930s. Many changes in electricity generation have occurred since then, and more are on the way.
Originally, TVA was advertised as being for the purpose of "navigation, conservation and flood control" -- with the generation of electricity being a byproduct. But electricity generation fast became the biggest role of TVA.
The demand for TVA electricity became so great that it outgrew the capacity of TVA's dams to generate power. So TVA began constructing coal-burning steam plants to increase capacity.
But still more -- and cleaner -- electricity soon was needed. So TVA turned to nuclear plants.
Now, TVA's board has decided to finish construction of long-delayed Bellefonte Nuclear Plant downstream on the Tennessee River, in Alabama -- and to finance the $4 billion to $5 billion tab by selling the nearly completed Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor upstream, as well as the John Sevier gas plant. TVA then plans to lease the plants back and run them. The project will create thousands of temporary and hundreds of permanent jobs.
The lease transaction means ratepayers will face higher bills, but not as high as if TVA actually funded the Bellefonte work with rate increases.
We all want to be assured of having the electricity we need -- at the lowest rate possible. Bellefonte, which will produce enough energy for 750,000 homes in the region, is an important part of that equation.