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Pictorial History of TVA & GPS

"Declare the past, diagnose the present, foretell the future; practice these acts.
...Make a habit of two things: To help, or at least to do no harm."
-- Hippocrates (c460 - c370 BCE)

Right click image to enlarge.
Before 1933 -- Seven hydro dams are completed which TVA will acquire in 1939 from the Tennessee Electric Power Company (Ocoee 1 in 1911, Wilbur in 1912, Hales Bar in 1913, Nolichucky in 1913, Ocoee 2 in 1913, Great Falls in 1916 & Blue Ridge in 1930). The US Government completes one hydro dam at Muscle Shoals, AL (Wilson) 1924. The Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) completes three hydro dams which TVA will not acquire (Cheoah in 1919, Santeetlah in 1928 & Calderwood in 1930).
May 18, 1933 -- TVA Act is signed into law creating the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) with broad powers to resettle populations, dam rivers, control floods, create navigatable waterways, generate power, control soil erosion, improve agriculture, and promote industry. President Roosevelt appoints three full-time directors, and TVA headquarters are established in Knoxville, TN. TVA dams and power houses will have huge signs proclaiming BUILT FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES.
1933-1940 -- During the Great Depression, TVA completes six hydro dams (Norris in 1935, Wheeler in 1936, Pickwick Landing in 1938, Gunthersville in 1939, Chicamauga in 1940 & Hiwassee in 1940). In August 1939, after a protracted legal battle, TVA acquires all assets of the Tennessee Electric Power Company (TEPCO) from the Commonwealth & Southern Corporation (now the Southern Company of Atlanta, GA). Tennessee River navigation is extended to Chattanooga.
1941-1944 -- During World War II, TVA completes ten hydro dams (Cherokee in 1941, Chatuge in 1942, Nottely in 1942, Ocoee 3 in 1942, Watts Bar in 1942, Appalachia in 1943, Douglas in 1943, Fort Loudon in 1943, Fontana in 1944 & Kentucky in 1944) and one coal-fired power plant (Watts Bar 1942). Tennessee River navigation is extended to Knoxville. TVA's installed capacity will reach 2,217 MW in 1945. The Watts Bar coal-fired plant will be stut down in 1982. "THESE TVA DAMS ARE NEEDED FOR VICTORY."
1948-1959 -- In the years immediately following World War II, TVA completes four hydro dams (Watauga in 1948, South Holston in 1950, Boone in 1952 & Fort Patrick Henry in 1953) and seven coal-fired power plants (Johnsonville in 1951, Widows Creek in 1952, Shawnee in 1953, Kingston in 1954, Colbert in 1955, John Sevier in 1955 & Gallatin in 1956). The US Army Corps of Engineers completes five hydro dams (Dale Hollow in 1948, Center Hill in 1950, Wolf Creek in 1951, Old Hickory in 1957 & Cheatham in 1959). And ALCOA completes one hydro dam (Chilhowee in 1957).
1959 -- TVA Act is amended by Congress, divesting TVA of many fuctions and requiring the federally owned corporation to be self financing. Henceforth, TVA can issue its own bonds, but it cannot sell electricity outside its service area, and other power companies cannot transmit or market power inside TVA's service area. The Act creates "the fence" (based on 1957 boundaries) which still isolates TVA from competitive forces (and FERC regulation) which apply to other US power companies.
1960-1969 -- In the decade of the 1960's, TVA completes one hydro dam (Melton Hill in 1963), replaces one hydro dam (Hales Bar with Nicajack in 1967), and completes two coal-fired power plants (Paradise in 1963 & Bull Run in 1967). Memphis Gas, Light & Water Division (MGLW) completes one coal-fired power plant (Allen in 1959) which it leases to TVA in 1965. USACE completes one hydro dam (Barkley in 1966).
May 1963 -- President John Fitzgerald Kennedy celebrates TVA's 30th anniversary at TVA's Chemical Engineering Building in Muscle Shoals, AL: "The work of TVA will never be done until the work of our country is done. Let us all...whether we are public officials or private citizens, Northerners or Southerners, farmers or city dwellers, live up to the ideas and ideals of George Norris -- and resolve that we, too, in our time, will build a better nation for generations yet unborn.”
1970-1979 -- In the decade of the 1970's, TVA shuts down hydro production at one dam (Nolichucky in 1972) and completes two hydro projects (Tims Ford in 1970 & Tellico in 1979), one pumped storage reservoir (Raccoon Mountain in 1978), one coal-fired power plant (Cumberland in 1973), and three nuclear power plants (Browns Ferry 1 in 1974, Browns Ferry 2 in 1975 & Browns Ferry 3 in 1977). On March 22, 1975, Browns Ferry 1 suffers a serious fire and is shut down for one year. TVA participates in the design and construction of the Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project (CRBRP) in Oak Ridge, TN. USACE completes three dams (J. Piercy Priest in 1970, Cordell Hull in 1973 & Laurel in 1977).
1980-1989 -- In the decade of the 1980's, TVA purchases one coal-fired power station (Allen in 1984), shuts down one coal-fired power stateion (Watts Bar in 1982), and completes two nuclear power plants near Chattanooga, TN (Sequoyah 1 in 1981 & Sequoyah 2 in 1982). In 1985, TVA shuts down all three nuclear units at Browns Ferry for safety reasons. Unit 2 will restart in 1991, unit 3 will restart in 1995, and unit 1 will restart in 2007 (after 22 years of down time).
May 31, 1982 -- President Reagan opens the Knoxville Worlds Fair, praising the nearby CRBRP as helping end US energy dependence. TVA mounts a huge fair exhibit on 2 barges in the Tennessee River.
May 18, 1983 -- TVA celebrates its 50th anniversary. Commemorative postage stamp is issued in Knoxville depicting Norris Dam.
Oct. 26, 1983 -- Congress cancels the Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project (CRBRP). The Department of Energy, Argonne National Laboratory, TVA, and other participants in the CRBRP consortium loose $1.6 billion. TVA is still trying to find a buyer for the 1,245 acre site in Oak Ridge, TN. (Airphoto shows the round, treeless footprint of the excavation dug for the reactor in a bend of the Clinch River.)
1985 -- TVA's nuclear power program (most ambitious in the US) faces serious difficulties. All of TVA operating nuclear power plants (Sequoyah and Browns Ferry) are shut down for safety reasons. The agency has not yet applied for a license to operate the Watts Bar plant (shown in image), even though construction began in 1972 and one reactor is essentially complete. In January 1986, TVA will hire Steven A. White, a retired admiral with extensive experience in the Navy's nuclear program, to serve as Manager of Nuclear Power. Charged with conflict of interest and violation of federal pay guidelines, White will resign in late 1988. Watts Bar 1 will come on line in 1996. Watts Bar 2 construction is stopped in 1985 & will resume in 2007.
1988-1993 -- TVA -- the largest nuclear construction site in the world -- cancels all but 5 of the 18 nuclear plants it had under construction or in planning. TVA is still paying off the billions of dollars of debt incurred from the cancellations. (Airphoto shows the abandoned Hartsville site near Nashville, TN.)
1991 -- TVA's facility in Muscle Shoals, AL (constructed as a munitions plant during WW-I), is converted from the National Fertilizer Development Center (NFDC) to the Environmental Research Center (ERC) -- "working to transform America’s environmental stewardship as thoroughly as it once changed the way farmers cultivated their land." The ERC will become "a partner of the agency’s Public Power Institute" in 1999. TVA will abolish the ERC in 2000 and will abolish the PPI in 2003.
1992 -- Prototype tests are completed by U.S. Windpower for one of the first commercially available variable-speed wind turbines, the 33M-VS. The $20 million project is partially funded by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), and Niagara Mohawk Power Company. U.S. Windpower will change its name to Kenetech, then file for bankruptcy in May 1996.

December 1995 -- TVA issues a three-volume study Energy Vision 2020: Integrated Resource Plan/Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement after two years of analysis, including public inputs.
October 22, 1997 -- The House Committee on the Judiciary under the chairmanship of Rep. Henry Hyde hears testimony on "the application of the antitrust laws to the TVA and the Federal Power Marketing Administrations."
1997 -- The Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) of San Francisco, CA, launches the "Green-e Renewable Energy Certification Program" and the Green-e logo. "Green power" (also called green energy) has many arbitrary definitions. A common criterion is that the source must be "new." So "old" hydro power -- TVA's original raison d'etre -- is excluded. TVA will comply with CRS standards to obtain certification or accreditation (i.e. the Green-e logo) for all "green power" that it sells as part of the GPS program.
Circa 1997 -- Stephen Smith, executive director of the Tennessee Valley Energy Reform Coalition (TVERC) and the Tennessee Clean Air Task Force (TCATF), presses TVA to create a green power pricing program. The TVERC will change its name to the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) in the Spring of 2000, about the time GPS is launched. Smith will become the best known supporter of GPS, and SACE will actually "sell" GPS, paricularly to churches and on university campuses.

1998 -- TVA begins planning for a green power pricing program. In 2002, engineer Rick Carson will tell a conference in North Carolina that the first site favored by TVA for wind turbines was Lookout Mountain, GA, but strong opposition was organized by nearby Convenant College. TVA will abolish PPI in 2003. Carson is now in charge of TVA's Buffalo Mountain Wind Farm.

Late 1998 -- TVA "conducts a series of Green Power Forums around the [Tennessee] Valley." Attendees "favor solar, wind and methane" (as opposed to what?). "A solid 84 percent of 1,400 Tennessee Valley residents polled by phone say green power should be an option for all power users, even if they might choose not to buy the power themselves." Years later, TVA will claim that 84% [of the people in the 1998 survey] said they would purchase green power if TVA offered it."

1999 -- TVA creates the Public Power Institute (PPI) "to bring new ideas and technologies to the world of electric energy by showcasing those that offer the most efficiency to consumers and protection to the environment." PPI employs more than 60 scientists and engineers on TVA’s Environmental Research Center (ERC) "campus" in Muscle Shoals, AL. TVA will abolish the ERC in 2000 and will abolish the PPI in 2003.

May 21, 1999 -- "Ms. Anda Ray [Director of TVA's Public Power Institute] gave a presentation on the TVA's Green Power program. Ms. Ray defined green power, which is electricity generated by using hydro, geothermal, wind, landfill, biomass, or solar technology. Customers must elect to participate in the TVA's Green Power program, and the program is not part of the renewable portfolio program. The TVA is offering green power to provide customer choice, and as a means of environmental stewardship, which is part of the TVA's mission statement. [italics added]" -- From the minutes of the 9th meeting (1998-99 Interim Session), Special Subcommittee on Energy, Kentucky General Assembly, May 21, 1999.
April 22, 2000 -- TVA launches Green Power Switch (GPS) on Earth Day, the first green power program in the southeastern US. GPS was "developed by TVA's Public Power Insitute (PPI) [in Muscle Shoals, AL] and implemented by TVA's Customer Service and Marketing group [in Nashville, TN]." The GPS logo depicts the sun, the wind, and the "ground" (get it?). Between 2000 and 2005, TVA will build 16 small solar power generating sites in all parts of the TVA service area for about $3 million. The power generated at these sites will amount to 427,462 kWh in FY 2006 -- only 1/2 of one percent of total green power produced for and marketed by the GPS program.

May 17, 2000 -- US Department of Energy (DOE), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and TVA officials sign two memoranda of understanding agreeing to "work together in collaborative efforts to develop and deploy sustainable energy technologies." ORNL becomes the first directly served industrial participant in the Green Power Switch program. ORNL and TVA's Public Policy Institure (PPI) agree "to develop, demonstrate and deploy technologies for efficient and environmentally beneficial renewable energy production and use." The officials dedicate a "living bioenergy crop display, including hybrid poplar, hybrid willow and switchgrass," at the American Museum of Science & Energy (AMSE) in Oak Ridge, TN. TVA will abolish PPI in 2003. The bioenergy crops will wither and die by 2006.
June 14, 2000 -- First blackout of the California energy crisis. Due to price controls, utilities are paying more for electricity than they are allowed to charge customers. Price instability, spikes, and rolling blackouts will last from May 2000 to September 2001. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) will be forced into backrupcy, and Southern California Edison (SCE) will require a government bail out. Click here for a list of the nation's largest power companies. (PG&E is #11. SCE is owned by #7 Edison International. TVA is #20.)
November 13, 2000 -- TVA, SACE (Stephen Smith), and the media dedicate TVA's Buffalo Mountain Wind Farm near Oliver Sprngs, TN. Ulla-Britt Reeves reports the day's activities for SACE in an on-line diary. The wind farm's three turbines are relatively small: 660 kW each for a total capacity of 1.98 MW. Of course this capacity cannot be used when the wind doesn't blow. TVA calculated that the "capacity factor" on Buffalo Mountain would about about 30%, but the actual capacity factor will be significantly less -- about 20%. In October 2007, TVA will reveal that its total investment in the Buffalo Mountain Wind Farm is about $4 million.
April 22, 2001 -- Green Power Switch ends one-year "market test" which was limited to the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) and eleven other TVA distributors. TVA begins to persude other distributors to offer GPS. As of April 2007, GPS will be offered by 98 (62%) of TVA's 158 distributors. Images show areas served by TVA distributors.
Spring 2001-Summer 2002 -- The first six issues (#1 through #6) of the GPS newsletter begin with this introduction: "Green Power Switch News is produced cooperatively by the Tennessee Valley Authority, distributors of TVA power, and the environmental community to provide information about the status and growth of Green Power Switch--a renewable energy option."
Fall 2002-Winter 2007 -- The next sixteen issues (#7 through #22) of the GPS newsletter begin with this introduction: "Green Power Switch is a renewable energy intitiative that offers consumers in the Tennessee Valley a choice in the type of power they buy. TVA and local public power companies, working in cooperation with the environmental community, developed Green Power Switch as a way to bring green power--electricity that's generated by clean, renewable resources like solar, wind, and methane gas--to [Tennessee] Valley consumers."
May 9, 2001 -- The generation facility at BFI's Middle Point landfill in Rutherford County north of Murfreesboro, TN, produces green power from methane gas for the first time. In December 2001, TVA will sign a contract to purchase the methane plant from Energy Development Incorporated (EDI). Sometime in 2003 (qv), TVA will stop counting Middle Point as a source of green power. In October 2007, TVA will reveal that its total investment in methane gas (Middle Point and Allen) is about $6 million.
July 19, 2001 -- President George W. Bush appoints Glenn L. McCullough, Jr., (former mayor of Tupelo, MS) chairman of TVA on the recommendation of Ken ("Kenny Boy") Lay, President of Enron (among other recommendations). McCullough replaces Craven Crowell (former chairman of the Electric Power Research Institute) a year before his term ends.
Dec. 2, 2001 -- Enron files backrupcy leading to a major financial scandal. Many aspects of the national power industry change dramaticaly. Deregulation and restructuring are put on hold in California and elsewhere. (Enron fraudulently avoided the loss of several $100 million by summarilly removing an energy supply contract with TVA from its "market-to-market" accounting books.)
January 2002 -- Allen Methane Project Unit 3 starts up in Memphis, TN. Capacity is estimated to be 4 MW. TVA received permission to generate green power from methane in Memphis "after Middle Point setbacks." This project extracts methane from the Memphis wastewater treatment plant and "co-fires" it with coal at the nearby Allen fossil plant (shown in photo). It will become the second largest source of TVA's "green power." In October 2007, TVA will reveal that its total investment in methane gas (Allen and Middle Point) is about $6 million.
February 25, 2002 -- PV generating site (solar facility) is opened by TVA at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, TN. It's still on TVA maps but apparently it no longer operates. What happened to it? The GPS newsletter says that this is is the 12th of 16 PV sites installed by TVA. On October 24, 2007, ORNL will install its own PV site, which rotates with the sun. (Image shows TVA solar site in Bowling Green, KY, dedicated June 9, 2001.)
April 7, 2002 -- Freedom of Information request by Robert Smith of Oak Ridge, TN, disproves TVA's claim that two blocks of GPS ($8.00/month) "is the environmental equivalent of planting an acre of trees in the Tennessee Valley." But TVA and distributors of TVA power continue to make this and other equivalency claims, e.g. two blocks of GPS is the same as recycling 480 pounts of aluminum (15,322 cans) or recycling 1,766 pounds of newspapers or not driving for nearly four months. The GPS logo of the Tullahoma Utilities Board (TUB) presents three of these claims in the form of art (as shown at left).

April 2002 -- TVA's Public Policy Institute (PPI) issues Final Environmental Assessment for a 20-MW wind farm and associated "Regenesys" energy-storage facility "on Buffalo Mountain in Anderson County (Alternative 1), on Stone Mountain in Johnson County (Alternative 2), or not building a 20 MW wind farm and associated energy storage facility (Alternative 3)."

May 2002 -- Tennessee Governor Don Sunquist announces that state buildings in Nashville -- including the governor's mansion -- are purchasing 720,000 kWh of Green Power Switch annually at an extra cost of $19,000 a year.

Late 2002 -- The Sierra Club and Alabama Environmental Council (AEC) sue TVA, claiming that TVA’s Colbert Fossil Plant in Tuscumbia, AL, emitted smoke that exceeded the Clean Air Act’s “opacity” standards. A federal judge will rule for TVA in 2004, but the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will revese the decision and send it back to the original court, and on August 27, 2007, the same judge will will find that the Colbert plant had not met standards for “continuous compliance” of the opacity standards, although the plant did meet requirements 99 percent of the time.
December 2002 -- TVA quietly scraps plans for a $25 million "Regenesys" energy-storage facility near Buffalo Mountain which would have been part of GPS by storing intermittent wind power and releasing it when actually needed. Another Regenesys plant, already under constrution in Columbus, MS, will be cancelled in late 2003, causing TVA to loose millions of dollars. TVA will abolish its research facility, the Public Power Institute (PPI) shortly afterward. TVA is still trying to sell or lease the PPI Building in Muscle Shoals, AL.
Sometime in 2003 -- Middle Point landfill gas generation facility north of Murfreesboro, TN, stops producing green power. The facility still produces electricity but it no longer qualifies for the Green-E logo awarded by the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) in San Francisco, CA. TVA offers no explanation for its loss of certification. It will later be revealed that the Middle Point landfill receives radioactive waste from as far away as California.

August 2003 -- TVA issues Final Environmental Assessment for a "Rate Change Proposal: Modification of Rate Structure for Pricing of Wholesale Electricity to Distributors Within the TVA Power Service Area." Green Power Swith is not mentioned.

September 2003 -- TVA's Edward A. Stephens & L. Daryl Willisms post an article entitled "The role of renewable energy in reducing greenhouse gas [GHG] buildup" on the TVA website. It says that "TVA's Renewable Energy Team concluded that approximately 3,000 MW-equivalent of energy -- from wind, HMOD [hydro modernization], bioenergy, and solar energy -- exist within and directly adjacent to the TVA service territory [less than 30 percent of which] is cost-competitive with TVA's [current] generation mix." Hummm, how much less than 30%. Twenty-five would be 750 MW (compared to about 37 MW for the entire productive capacity of Green Power Switch in 2007). What is the "Renewable Energy Team," and what else has it concluded? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Fall 2003 -- "GPS News" (vol. 3, no. 4) identifies twelve members of the GPS steering committee and says that they are "responsible for ensuring that GPS meets the accreditation criteria set forth by the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS). Stephen Smith, executive director of SACE, and other "representatives" of the private sector are said to be on the committee. Unlike TVA's Regional Resource Stewardship Council (RRSC), the GPS steering committee meets in secret, and its decisions are not published. This newsletter article is the only publicity the steering committee will ever receive.
October 7, 2003 -- Grist Magazine of Seattle, WA, quotes Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, as saying: "The message is simple... To get these [green power] programs to take off in a big way you need federal-level efforts -- in particular a Renewable Portfolio Standard that requires a certain percentage of the whole generation mix in this country to come from renewable energy." (NB: RPS was eliminated during negotiation of the Energy Act of 2007.)

January 2004 -- TVA issues a new Strategic Plan. See next strategic plan issued May 31, 2007.
March 4, 2004 -- The GPS manager (Gary Harris) tells the Southern Bio-Products Conference in Biloxi, MS, that the "future growth of [GPS and other] green pricing programs will depend on state [or federal?] laws requiring utilities offer green power to their customers."

July 21, 2004 -- Eight States & New York City sue top fiveTop US global warming polluters, including TVA. "Landmark suit seeks dramatic carbon dioxide emission reductions from power plants."

December 9, 2004 -- Buffalo Mountain Energy Center (BMEC) begins generating green power. The wind farm's fifteen turbines are relatively large: 1.8 MW each for a total capacity of 27 MW (nearly 14 times the capacity of the three turbines owned by TVA). This facility is owned by Invenergy LLC of Chicago, Illinois -- not by TVA -- but, as production increases, it will become TVA's largest single source of green power. Invenergy will recoup its $25 million investment through a 20-year power purchasing contract with TVA (the terms of which are "commercially confidential").
April 22, 2005 (Earth Day) -- Dedication of 15 wind turbines at Buffalo Mountain Energy Center (BMEC) -- also known as Windrock -- on Buffalo Mountain near Oliver Springs, TN. VIP's in photo (clockwise from left to right): W. Dwight Bailey (DOE project officer), Jim Hackworth (state representative for Anderson County), Michael Polsky (Invenergy president). Skila Harris (TVA director), Stephen Smith (SACE executive director), and Jim Keiffer (TVA senior VP for marketing).
May 13, 2005 -- Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) says "wind produces puny amounts of high-cost unreliable power" and "Congress should not subsidize the destruction of the American landscape" during a Senate floor speech introducting the "Environmentally Responsible Wind Power Act of 2005." Alexander is immediately criticized by the wind power industry.

June 30, 2005 -- TVA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) submits a report on GPS (Audit No. 2005-040F) to the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) for the year ending December 31, 2004. NB: The text of this report is not on-line. See June 13, 2007.
August 8, 2005 -- Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) requires TVA to change its board of directors from 3 full-time directors to 9 part-time directors. President Bush will appoint nine Republicans, the Senate will confirm, and the new board (as shown in image) will be sworn in on March 31, 2006. This is the first change in the number and responsibility of TVA directors since 1933.

August 8, 2005 -- Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) also contains a "Federal Renewables Purchase Requirement." On June 8, 2007 (qv), TVA will cite this requirement -- and GPS -- as the two "drivers" of TVA's development of renewable energy.
September 2005 -- As wind generation from Invenergy's Buffalo Mountain Energy Center (BMEC) increases, GPS supply finally exceeds GPS demand for the first time, and TVA will be able to market GPS more aggressively than it dared in 2003-2005. In an interview given to the Assocated Press in mid-October, GPS manager Jerry Cargile will say, "We have had a great [fiscal] year [ending September 30]. It is the best year so far. That has made us optimistic that we can get back on track." AP correspondent Duncan Mansfield notes that GPS is now reaching 8,300 households but only 89 of TVA's 158 distributors are currently offering GPS.
Fall 2005 -- TVA mails a DVD to all GPS subscribers which "explains that purchasing two blocks of GPS for one year is the environmental equivalent of planting an acre of trees in the Tennessee Valley or not driving your car for four months." On December 5, 2006, GPS manager (Jim West) will make a PowerPoint presentation to the 11th National Green Power Marketing Conference in San Francisco, CA, claiming "significant & measurable results" (26.6% increase) from a "strategically planned & targeted marketing campaign" which included mailing the DVD to "185,000 households that fall within the high-potential demographic profiles." (185,000 DVD's, and still only 10,000 households subscribe to GPS?!)
Fall 2005 The University of Tennessee's 25,000-student main campus in Knoxville becomes the GPS program's largest customer -- increasing its renewable electricity purchases nine-fold after a student-led initiative. The university will buy 6,075 megawatt hours a year - about 2 percent of its annual usage. The bill: $162,000.
Winter 2006 -- After 17 issues, the GPS newsletter ("Green Power Switch News") starts appearing irregularly. Issue #18 bears wrong date. Starting with issue #19, the newsletter is no longer available in PDF format.

January 30, 2006 -- North Carolina State Attorney General Roy Cooper sues TVA, claiming air pollution that blows across mountains into North Carolina is a public nuisance that causes thousands of illnesses a year. On November 6, 2007, Cooper will tell the NC Council of State that the suit has so far cost $3.5 million in legal expenses and will cost $1.9 million more if it goes to court. A federal court will rule Jan. 31, 2008, that this suit may proceed.
September 30, 2006 -- TVA's annual environmental report says that a "cumulative" total of 33,493,000 GPS blocks were sold in FY 2006 (vs. a "target" of 33,000,000). At $4.00 per block, this represents gross revenue (i.e. premium above normal electricity rates) of $134 million. Even over seven years (2000-2006), this is far too high. NB: The accompanying chart projects GPS growth of about 5.5 percent per year through 2012. The scale of the chart is off by a factor of 10. Sales figures presented on September 19, 2007 (qv), will be totally different.
September 30, 2006 -- TVA submits an annual 10-K Report (for the fiscal year ending on this date) to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for the first time in history. The K-10 contains a lot of interesting information e.g. sources of TVA coal in FY 2006: 19% from Appalachian Basin (Eastern KY and other?), 19% from Unita Basin (UT & CO), 25% from Power River Basin (WY), & 37% from Illinois Basin (which includes western KY).
September 30, 2006 -- For example, TVA's 10-K reveals that the sources of TVA's coal in FY 2006 were: 37% from the Illinois Basin, 25% from the Powder River Basin (WY), 19% from the Unita Basin (UT & CO), and 19% from the Appalachian Basin (KY, PA & TN). This contracts popular opinion which assumes that TVA obtains most of its coal from nearby sources in Kentucky. So where does TVA actually own coal assets?

November 2006 -- TVA (Frank Rapley) posts an article entitled "How competitive is the Valley?" on the TVA website, concluding that, despite recent rate increases, TVA's "relative competitive position is improving." In recent months, the average retail rate in the TVA area increased 10.4% (from 5.75 cents per kWh to 6.25 cents per kWh), whereas the average rate for TVA's 14 neighboring utilities rose 10.6% (from 6.04 cents per kWh to 6.68 cents per wWh). TVA is a monopoly inside "the fence" but apparently considers its "competitors" to be neighboring utilities such as Entergy Arkansas, Duke Energy, and Central Illinois Light Co.
November 2006 -- National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) issues "Green Power Marketing in the United States: A Status Report" (9th Edition). The report shows that the average premium charged for green power fell from 3.48 cents per kWh in 2000 to 2.36 cents per kWh in 2005. The premium charged by TVA for Green Power Switch was 2.67 cents per kWh when the program began in 2000 and will remain unchanged (at least through 2007).

February 2007 -- TVA issues GPRA Annual Performance Plan for FY 2008 (GPRA stands for Government Performance & Results Act of 1993). The annual plan says, "the electrical industry is continuing to evolve in ways that could have wide-ranging impacts on TVA... There is great uncetainty about when legislation will be enacted that amends laws restricting competition in the Tennessee Valley..." The plan does not mention renewable energy or Green Power Switch.
Spring 2007 -- TVA publishes the first and only issue of the GPS newsletter (Green Power Switch News) in the entire year of 2007 (vol. 7, no. 1). Lead photo: Girl with arms outspread. Opening line: "Green Power Switch will reach a milestone this spring…our 10,000th residential customer!" The GPS newsletter was issued 3x in 2001, 4x in 2002, 4x in 2003, 3x in 2004, 3x in 2005, 3x in 2006, and only once in 2007. Is TVA loosing interest in GPS?
March 26, 2007 -- Former Vice President (and future Nobel Peace Prize winner) Al Gore quickly subscribes to Green Power Switch after the Drudge Report accuses him of consuming twenty times more electricity at his home near Nashville, TN, as the average US household.
April 22, 2007 (Earth Day) -- TVA launches ad campaign for GPS. Full-page newspaper ads feature a green tree made up of human figures and the slogan "One person can make a difference. 10,000 can create a movement." Ads on public radio claim GPS is "a growing movement." No technical or financial information is provided. TVA uses two ad agencies: The Buntin Group of Nashville and The Shelton Group of Knoxville.
May 24, 2007 -- Unit 1 of the nuclear power station at Browns Ferry, AL, is restarted after being shut down for 22 years. A leaky hydraulic control pipe in the turbine hall bursts, spilling about 600 gallons of non-radioactive fluid,. Power-up and tests will resume on May 27, and the unit will start supplying power to the grid on June 2, reaching full power on June 8.


May 31, 2007 -- TVA issues a Strategic Plan (replacing the plan of January 2004). The new plan says "TVA will strive to reduce the carbon intensity of its generation by inceasing renewable generating capacity," but the only thing it says about GPS is that it "has helped TVA learn more about the potential for solar, wind, and methane gas generation in the Valley." Under "Planning Assessments," the plan says, "A renewable portfolio standard is...likely within the next decade." Invenergy "applaudes" the plan. (When comments were sought on the draft plan, an anonymous TVA employee said that "TVA needs to take a hard look from an ethical perspective in marketing [GPS]. It appears to be an Enron-type house built on sand with no apparent accountability to the customer.")

June 8, 2007 -- TVA (Daryl Williams) gives a PowerPoint briefing on renewable energy to Members of Congress. Title of the briefing is "Renewable Portfolio Standards - Implications for TVA." Click here to see the PowerPoint slides, which show (among many other things) that TVA produces much more "renewable energy" -- primarily Hydro Modernization -- than the small solar, wind, and methane sources which qualify for Green Power Switch. Click here to see a report by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) which refutes TVA's conclusions about renewable energy.

June 11, 2007 -- Invenergy LLC issues press release entitled "Tennessee Residents Favor Expanded Wind Energy. Powerful Wind Energy Support at Odds with Sen. Alexander" based on a random telephone poll (paid for by Invenergy?) of 1,047 registered voters in Tennessee on June 5-6. The poll found that 12 times as many voters support wind energy as oppose it and that 82% believe wind energy is a viable source of pollution-free electricity in Tennessee.
June 12, 2007 -- After receiving the PowerPoint briefing from TVA, Senator Lamar Alexander (R, TN) makes a speech in the Senate opposing renewable portfolio standards (RPS). He says the "capacity factor" of the wind turbines on Buffalo Mountain is only 20%, that the southeastern states can produce very little renewable energy, and that RPS penalties would raise the price of electricity in the Tennessee Valley.

June 14, 2007 -- TVA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) submits a 129-page report on GPS (Audit No. 2007-11012) to the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) for the year ending December 31, 2006. The text of this report is on-line. Verification worksheets are completed by Holly B. Jordan. Facility attestation for the Invenergy wind farm is signed by Frank Pizzileo (Chicago, IL). Attestations for all other GPS facilities are signed by Jerry W. Cargill.
June 21, 2007 -- President George W. Bush visits the newly reopened TVA reactor at Browns Ferry, AL. Jim Riccio of Greenpeace says he doubts if the visit sends the message the president intends. "TVA's history with nuclear power is one of massive cost overruns, nuclear accidents, the quashing of whistleblowers and billions of dollars in nuclear generated debt. I guess Three Mile Island was booked."
June-July-August 2007 -- No green energy is produced for at least these three months at TVA's Allen fossil plant in Memphis. This causes total green energy production to be less during TVA's fiscal year ending September 30, 2007, than it was in the previous fiscal year. TVA offers no explanation for the interruption, and it is never reported in the press. This project is TVA's second largest source of green power -- and only way to produce green power from methane since the Middle Point landfill source was abandoned in 2003. When it operaes, the project extracts methane from the Memphis wastewater treatment plant and "co-fires" it with coal at the nearby Allen fossil plant (in background of photo).
August 1, 2007 -- Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church (which pays $100/month for GPS) hand delivers "An Appeal to the TVA Board" during a TVA board meeting in Knoxville. The letter requests more information about GPS. The letter will be reread to the board on March 5, 2008 (qv), and TVA will reply on April 4, 2008 (qv). Click here to see the letter. (Also on August 1, the TVA board unnanimously approves the completion of Unit 2 at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City, TN.)

August 23, 2007 -- GPS manager Holly Barnes Jordan writes, "Operational and cost data about GPS and its generation resources is not published. This data is competitively confidential... TVA does account for every dollar of revenue collected and every dollar spent... The [GPS steering] committee meets periodically to discuss the status of the program and goals of the program. Minutes of these meetings are not published. We believe the program is working and is achieving the goals we have set for it."
August 27, 2007 -- Alabama District Court Judge Virginia Hopkins rules that TVA violated the Clean Air Act over 3000 times between 2000 and 2002 at its Colbert coal-fired power plant in Tescumbia, AL (near TVA's former Environmental Research Center and Public Power Institute. "This ruling comes in response to a 2002 legal challenge brought by the Sierra Club and the Alabama Environmental Council (AEC) in order to hold TVA accountable for their years of illegal power plant emissions."

September 19, 2007 -- GPS managers Holly Barnes Jordan and Jerry W. Cargill travel from Nashville to Knoxville to meet with two private citizens who inquired about GPS accounts. The two managers share some GPS data for 2000-2006 (sales in MWh, supply in MWh, and premium received in dollars), but each page is marked "Priveleged Confidential Pre-Decisional Deliberative Document." They boast that residential subscribers recently increased to 12,500 and that TVA may have to "consider adding a new source" of green power in 2008. The managers admit that publication of "GPS News" has fallen months behind schedule, and they promise to put more GPS information on the TVA website. GPS production statistics will be updated 79 days after this meeting (qv). But TVA will add no new information to the GPS website-- and issue no new GPS newsletter -- before the end of 2007.
October 14, 2007 -- The Tennessean publishes an interview with GPS manager Holly Barnes Jordan (who attended the meeting on September 19) and her boss Jim Keiffer, senior VP for marketing. The TVA repesentatives put a number for the very first time on TVA's own investment in GPS since 2000 (just under $13 million, including $1 million from a grant). The story headlines their bizarre claim that GPS subscribers believe green power made from methane is dirty (a coverup for Memphis? an excuse for not selling more GPS?). AP spreads the "dirty methane" story nationwide without attribution to The Tennessean.
October 15, 2007 -- TVA announces that Bechtel Power Corporation will lead the engineering, procurement and construction work necessary to complete Unit 2 at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant near Spring City, TN, at an estimated cost of $2.49 billion. TVA says says nuclear power needs to be expanded in order to keep up with the ever-growing demand for elecricity (as shown by the accompanying graph from TVA's budget presentation on September 28, 2007).
October 30, 2007 -- TVA News Release: "As the site owner and applicant utility, TVA joined NuStart Energy today in submitting an application for a combined operating license for a new nuclear power plant to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Rockville, Md... If approved by the NRC, the license to build and operate a two-unit plant at the Bellefonte site in Hollywood, Ala., would be issued to TVA. The TVA Board would decide whether to build a new nuclear plant at the site."
November 18, 2007 -- TVA claims it helped bring $5.6 billion in economic development to its region during the fiscal year which ended September 30, 2007. John Bradley, senior VP of economic development says, "A lot of the attractiveness of the Tennessee Valley is the reliability on electricity, which is sometimes even more critical than its price."

November 29, 2007 -- TVA board approves an incentive-based executive pay plan that could boost President and CEO Tom Kilgore's annual compensation from about $1.7 million to $2.7 million, COO William McCollum's salary to $1.9 million, and CFO Kimberly Greene's salary to $1.1 million. Only Kilgore's salary is discussed during the public meeting. According to a TVA spokesperson, the other salaries were "contained in the private agenda materials of board members." McCollum came to TVA in March 2007 from Duke Energy (the largest power company in the US), and Greene came in August 2007 from the Southern Company (the 4th largest power company). Kilgore's compensation is 270 times that of TVA's first full-time chairman in 1933. Click here to see the relative sizes of US power companies based on sales. (TVA is #20.)

December 7, 2007 -- TVA website posts a new GPS "generation update" with data for August-October 2007 (15,442,957 kWh). This is first update in three months. On December 10 (the very next business day), the website posts an even newer GPS "generation update" with data for September-November 2007 (24,490,55 kWh). Each posting erases previous data. No participation (consumption) data provided. Most recent GPS newsletter remains Spring 2007.

December 19, 2007 -- President George W. Bush signs the Energy Act of 2007 at the Department of Energy. The act includes meaningful new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for automomobile and truck manufacturers but omits any mention of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) for the electrical power industry. (Photo shows Bush & Nancy Pelosi at the signing.)

December 19, 2007 -- TVA changes the newsletter link on the GPS website to read as follows: "GPS Newsletter. See the latest issue of the GPS Newsletter. The GPS newsletter is going electronic in 2008. Sign-up to be notified of new issues." The year will end with the Spring 2007 issue as the only GPS newsletter for the entire year (instead of four as in previous years).

Late December 2007 (i.e. Christmastime) -- According to the Times Daily of Northwest Alabama, "TVA cut its research and development department from 79 to 33 employes in late December... Of the 33 R&D positions left, roughly one third are in Muscle Shoals..." TVA spokesman John Moulton told the Times Daily, "We're not pulling away from R&D, but refocusing."

February 21, 2008 -- Knoxville Voice publishes interview with the creator of this website: "TVA'S Green Power program doesn't corral suport from all. Local man bucks at green subscriber rates, starts community Web site for dialogue." Click here for full text. Click here for annotated version.

March 5, 2008 -- TVA board holds "Listening Session on Energy Efficiency/Demand Response and Renewable Energy" with 12 invited panelists and 13 public comments. Letter dated August 1, 2007, from Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church (qv) about Green Power Switch is reread to the board. Click here to see transcript of the entire session.

April 4, 2008 -- Kenneth R. Breeden, Executive VP, Customer Resources, TVA, replies to letter of August 1, 1007 (qv): "We are adding information to the GPS website to better communicate the program's performance to our customers." Other TVA executives said the same thing on September 19, 2007 (qv). Except for generation update and infrequent and vacuous newsletters, nothing has been added to the website in all this time.
May 19, 2008 -- "Meeting in Florence, AL [across the Tennessee River from Muscle Shoals], to mark [TVA's] 75th anniversary, TVA directors adopted policies that call for meeting more than half of the agency's power needs from renewable and clean energy sources by 2020, up from about 35 percent today" (according to the Associated Press). "Clean energy sources" must include nuclear power. There's no new release on the TVA website describing these decisions.

"Declare the past, diagnose the present, foretell the future; practice these acts.
...Make a habit of two things: To help, or at least to do no harm."
-- Hippocrates (c460 - c370 BCE)


The Past -- TVA launched GPS in 2000 and has operated it unchanged for eight years, despite changes in costs and in the power industry. GPS has always been a minor project of TVA's marketing department -- not of its power or research departments. But GPS has reaped many public relations benefits for TVA, notably by masking TVA's poor environmental record elsewhere (dirty coal, nuclear expansion, military production, public land sales, etc.) The program has cost TVA very little, in large measure because a gullible public has paid $6 million for GPS through voluntary contributions.


The Present -- GPS is useless. It provides no environmental benefits because TVA produces an insignificant amount of green energy (only 1/20 of 1% of its total output). TVA's solar projects (16 tiny demonstration sites), wind projects (3 small turbines plus a contract with Invenergy), and only remaining methane project (in Memphis) have plateaued. The public expects that green power will grow significantly, but TVA has no plan to invest additional resources -- and makes absolutely no accounting for the money which the public pays voluntarily. Meanwhile, TVA is investing hugh sums to expand its nuclear capacity and works behind the scenes to oppose renewable portfolio standards in Congress.


The Future -- The future of GPS depends -- as has TVA's entire history -- on federal regulation. If and when TVA is required to increase its production of clean energy, it will do so. Until then, GPS will limp along, more or less unchanged. The public -- including environmental organizations -- may or may not wake up to the fact that they are being duped by a giant corporation (which they wouldn't trust under any other circumstances).


The Harm -- GPS does actual harm (1) by extracting voluntary contribuions from the public, (2) by pretending that something is being done for the environment, (3) by giving TVA a false basis from which to claim that it is doing everything it can to meet consumer "demand" for clean energy, and (4) by diverting the attention of all concerned from other measures which would in fact make a difference, e.g. energy conservation and lobbying Congress for effective green power policies.

This page was last updated on Jan. 16, 2008.

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