TVA: The Craven Years

Next month, Craven Crowell steps down after eight years as chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority. He may have saved TVA—but first, he almost killed it.

It was the picture that did it.

The article was bad enough, and the headline—"The Tennessee Valley Anachronism"—was worse. But the picture is what everybody remembers.

"In the canoe," says Alan Carmichael, without prompting. "We didn't suggest that. It was just something the photographer dreamed up on the spot."

It came out in the May 19, 1997 issue of Forbes magazine. Splashed across pages 52 and 53 was a full-color photograph of Craven Crowell, the chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the head of the largest public utility company in the United States, standing upright in a small red boat at the base of Norris Dam. His arms were folded lumpenly, his grin seemed uncertain. He didn't have a paddle. The boat was in still water. The chairman looked awkward. He looked marooned. He looked, frankly, ridiculous.

Carmichael, an old friend of Crowell's and at the time TVA's vice president for communications, shakes his head at the memory. The photo quickly became an emblem of TVA's stature in the wildly fluctuating political environment of the 1990s. In a decade when even the Democratic president of the United States declared, "The era of big government is over," the mammoth New Deal agency often appeared both antiquated and aloof, arrogant but clueless. For a few years following the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, it seemed nothing could go right for TVA and the man who led it.

That wasn't exactly true. Even as Crowell alienated some of TVA's key supporters with a series of backfiring strategies, dubious consulting contracts and internal squabbles, the agency became increasingly efficient at generating power and at least began to deal with some of its thorniest challenges: an overwhelming debt burden and a legacy of environmental despoliation. When he leaves TVA next month, retiring a year before his nine-year term expires to pursue unidentified opportunities in "the private sector," he may not be widely mourned. But even his many detractors don't deny some of the agency's accomplishments during his term. And, both on and off the record, they often seem more baffled than anything else by the mood swings of TVA and its chairman over the past eight years.

"You would think that a man with that newspaper experience and Washington experience would have done a better job of managing Washington and managing the media," says Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and one of Crowell's most persistent watchdogs. "Those were repeated places where they lost control...I always have wondered about that."

MAKING OF A CHAIRMAN

There is plenty to wonder about in the story of Craven Crowell, and there is abundant material to draw from. (That material does not include any direct input from Crowell himself. He turned down repeated interview requests. TVA spokesman John Moulton said, by way of explanation, "We've heard you've been talking to a lot of his critics.")

To start with, you can't escape one of his most striking features: his name. Although there are those who suggest bitterly that Crowell's parents simply had surprising foresight in branding him with a word that has as its synonyms "cowardly," "defeated" and "vanquished," it is actually a family legacy—his father is listed as C.H. Crowell Sr., probably a descendent of one of the many Craven families in Tennessee. But combined with the alliterative "Cr-" in his surname, it is a mantle of literary dimensions, like a villain out of Charles Dickens. It may not seem significant except that it so often mirrors the worst complaints made against him. (Two of his frequent critics, U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp and Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, coincidentally cite the same Dickens passage in contemplating Crowell's leadership: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...")

However you gauge its outcome, Crowell's rise to chief of a multi-billion-dollar utility system had unlikely beginnings. A Middle Tennessee native from the working-class East Nashville neighborhood of Donelson, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and attended David Lipscomb University (his two brothers and both of his parents were involved in running Variety Distributors, a Nashville-based chain of wholesale jewelry stores). In 1964, he went to work at The Tennessean, then one of the most respected newspapers in the South. In that era, The Tennessean was a leading voice for the Civil Rights movement. It was also a political stronghold of the Tennessee Democratic party. Editor and publisher John Seigenthaler was one of the party's acknowledged kingmakers. Among those who joined Crowell on staff over the next several years were Alan Carmichael, Tom Ingram (now president of the Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership), and a young reporter fresh from duty in Vietnam named Albert Gore Jr.

Both Carmichael and Ingram remember Crowell as a demanding, aggressive city editor. "Craven started in the library of The Tennessean, if you can believe that, and worked his way up to the newsroom," says Carmichael, who left TVA in 1998 and is a partner with his wife, Cynthia Moxley, in the Moxley Carmichael public relations firm. At the age of 26, Crowell became one of the youngest reporters ever to win a National Headliner Award for investigative reporting. "I always thought he was one of the best city editors," Carmichael says. "He was the fairest...But he was tough."

In a fond farewell column dedicated to Crowell a few weeks ago in the Chamber Partnership's newsletter, Ingram wrote, "I remember him usually having his starched white shirt collar buttoned and tie in place, same as today, while the rest of us news slobs wandered around in our wrinkled khakis, blue button downs and ties very much loosened at the neck."

Crowell's dedication and attention to appearances paid off. When state Democratic Party head Jim Sasser prepared to run for U.S. Senate in 1976, he tapped Crowell, who had briefly decamped to Dallas, as his press secretary. The relationship with Sasser is the defining element of Crowell's subsequent career. It was through Sasser connections that he first went to work at TVA in 1980, first as head of the agency's media relations office—which then-Chairman David Freeman had expanded in an effort to burnish TVA's lackluster image—and then as chief political liaison in Washington. And he was back again with Sasser, serving as his chief of staff, when the 1992 election of Bill Clinton and Al Gore created the opportunity for new, Democratic appointments to the TVA board of directors. With two of the three seats open, Sasser and Gore each laid claim to one. (Credentials to serve on the TVA board are murky, but political connections have always been a prerequisite.)

Gore proffered Johnny Hayes, Tennessee's commissioner of economic development. Sasser picked Crowell. In mid-1993, both Hayes and Crowell won easy confirmation. The 49-year-old Crowell was named chairman, by dint of his prior TVA service and, presumably, Sasser's considerable clout as chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. (The third party on the three-member board was Republican William Kennoy). Nobody would have predicted then the massive changes coming to Washington, D.C., just over a year later. Or the way a chairman versed in both public and political relations would so clumsily manage both of them.

"TIMING IS EVERYTHING"

The evolution of TVA since its founding in 1933 reflects both technological and political changes inside and outside the Tennessee Valley. Its broad mission, to provide economic, social and cultural development in one of the poorest regions of the country, narrowed over time. By World War II, the power generation that had initially been only one thrust of TVA's projects, an offshoot of its dam construction and flood control efforts, assumed paramount importance. As the region modernized in the '50s and '60s, demand for electricity soared and the agency built more and more power plants to meet the need. These were coal-fired steam plants at first, but TVA also quickly moved into nuclear plant construction. They were self-financed with bonds, following a 1959 congressional act that allowed TVA to issue its own debt. Many of the construction projects dragged on, however, racking up billions of dollars in loans. In the late 1970s, Congress raised TVA's debt ceiling from $15 billion to $30 billion, but by the early 1990s the agency was nearing even that limit, at $24 billion and climbing.

That was the balance sheet Crowell inherited, along with a leaner but meaner work force demoralized and shaken by the violent lay-offs of Reagan-appointed Chairman Marvin Runyon (a.k.a. "Carvin' Marvin"). In the late '80s and early '90s, Runyon and the TVA board cut more than half the agency's payroll, shrinking it from 34,000 employees to just over 16,000. Its nuclear program in particular was hemorrhaging money, with plants at Watts Bar, Bellefonte and Browns Ferry in seemingly endless construction and permitting cycles. And looming somewhere on the political horizon were proposals to deregulate the electricity industry, a move that could challenge the very existence of a federally-owned public power company.

Bruce Wheeler, a history professor at the University of Tennessee who has written extensively about TVA, is largely sympathetic to Crowell and complimentary of his tenure. But he acknowledges its difficulties.

"Jack Benny said timing is everything," he says. "God, who would want to be chairman of the board in the years Crowell was?"

Even so, things seemed promising at first. Hard as it is to remember now, in 1993 the White House and both houses of Congress were under Democratic rule. What's more, with Gore and Sasser in positions of prominence, it seemed unthinkable that TVA's clout could come under serious challenge. And the TVA congressional caucus, whether its members were Democrats or Republicans, could historically be counted on to stand up for the company (not least because they could funnel some of TVA's annual economic development money back home to pet projects in their districts).

In just his second year as director, Crowell took one of the most significant steps of his entire term. In December 1994, he announced TVA would finish construction of one nuclear reactor—the Watts Bar No. 1 plant, which began operation in 1995 after more than 20 years of work—but abandon three others, one at Watts Bar and two at Bellefonte. The move would allow TVA to cap its debt, which had been rising steadily for more than 30 years. (The three abandoned reactors are still officially merely "mothballed," however, and they could be restarted if TVA finds a financing partner.)

The move earned Crowell environmental laurels. "It hadn't been since David Freeman was [chairman, in the late 1970s] that anyone had talked about not pissing good money after bad," Stephen Smith says.

But 1994 also produced the Newt Gingrich revolution. Suddenly, Crowell's patron Jim Sasser was gone, and the conservative Republicans who TVA had safely ignored for years—the ones who had been clamoring to break up the agency and sell it off—were in control of Congress. Meanwhile, TVA's neighboring private utility companies, like Atlanta-based Southern Company and North Carolina's Duke Power, were becoming increasingly vocal about their concerns that TVA's unique position as a federal utility made it too powerful in any coming deregulated marketplace. They organized a lobbying group called TVA Watch. And they had an audience.

"[They] started hammering away in Washington," Smith says. "Basically, the investor-owned utilities were able to get to some congressional committee chairmen after '94, saying TVA had an unfair competitive advantage. I think Crowell made several very critical strategic mistakes. [He] overestimated TVA's ability to influence Congress."

"IT WAS A FIRESTORM"

Crowell, along with Hayes and Kennoy, took the early tack that the best defense was a good offense. TVA had traditionally fought efforts to lower the "Fence" surrounding its seven-state service area. That federally mandated Fence keeps TVA from competing outside its defined region. With its relatively low rates and enormous production capacity, Crowell thought TVA could actually come out ahead in an open marketplace.

In 1995, TVA commissioned from Coopers & Lybrand a slim report called "The Ties That Bind." It assessed the agency's financial status, generating capacity, and likely competitors within the region, and concluded that the Fence should come down. "TVA's transition to a fully competitive posture is not hindered by any inherent inability to compete on a vigorous and equal basis with others in an open market," it said.

The report was intended to demonstrate TVA's strength and independence. It noted repeatedly that the agency's power system was entirely self-supporting. But it raised the hackles of TVA Watch and its affiliates, who saw it as a clear shot across the bow, a sign that TVA intended to target their customer bases. More significantly, it played directly into the notion that TVA could be privatized completely and spun off into component parts.

One of the GOP class of '94 was Congressman Zach Wamp, who represents Tennessee's 3rd District. Wamp served for two years as head of the Tennessee Valley congressional caucus, TVA's traditional defenders in Washington. But he says Crowell didn't make it easy. "It was an in-your-face approach that has cost us in Washington, for the benefit of himself," he says.

Especially galling to some in Congress were TVA advertising campaigns in Northern states touting the company's low power rates. Congressmen like Robert Torricelli of New Jersey saw them as blatant attempts to recruit industry to the South.

The fight escalated over the next few years. Although 98 percent of TVA's nearly $6 billion budget came directly from power revenues, the other 2 percent—about $100 million a year—came from the federal government. That money paid for TVA's non-power activities: flood control, recreation areas on TVA land, river navigation. And since it was the only funding Congress had control of, it was what the critics went after. Every year became a battle to retain the appropriation.

By now, Crowell was clearly besotted with the idea of riding TVA into an open marketplace. He started referring to the agency (as he did in the Forbes article) as "America's power company." And so, in early 1997, he took what must have seemed—to him, anyway—like a logical step: rather than fighting the annual effort to strip TVA of its funds, he announced that he would welcome it. In a report in January of that year, he proposed that the non-power programs could be transferred to "state, local, or another federal agency."

To put it mildly, it didn't go over well. What Crowell had underestimated was the symbolic importance of the non-power programs to TVA's identity. For generations who had either witnessed or grown up hearing about the agency's idealistic origins, the river programs and parks and small-scale economic development projects were its most visible legacies. Crowell thought of TVA as just a utility, but to its constituents, it was more.

Smith, who was making environmental lobbying trips of his own to the nation's capital, was struck by the vehemence of the reaction.

"He pissed off the [congressional] delegation, he pissed off the distributors, he pissed off us, he pissed off the constituents," Smith says, shaking his head. "It was a firestorm in the spring of '97...A congressman from Missouri said Crowell was the most arrogant person he'd ever seen. He just became persona non grata in Washington."

Asked about perceptions of Crowell's arrogance, Wamp says, "It wasn't a perception. He went about doing some things without building consensus in the Valley."

UT's Wheeler is more forgiving. "I think it was just a dollars decision that he had to make," he says. "It turns out Tennessee people are just like people everywhere else: they want government cuts, but not on the programs that help them."

Carmichael says TVA leaders were caught off-guard. "I'd say most people were surprised at the depth of the reaction," he says. "It did create a huge force. I don't know how much TVA Watch spends, but at the time it seemed like they were spending a huge amount to keep TVA reined in."

(According to the Center for Public Integrity, which tracks lobbying efforts in Washington, TVA Watch spent $645,000 in 1997-98.)

Then came the Forbes article, which surveyed all of the above and reached a brutal conclusion: "[H]asn't the past decade taught that when change starts to blow through countries and industries, not even the toughest old dinosaurs can find shelter? Our bet: TVA's days are numbered."

Suddenly, Crowell's wide-open embrace of the marketplace and his race to establish TVA's self-sufficiency looked like a headlong rush into oblivion. Because, while Congress did not have the power to impact TVA's budget, it did have the power to dismember the agency altogether. How real that possibility seemed was illustrated by a 1997 News-Sentinel headline: "TVA: Selling an American Icon."

"TECHNICAL VIOLATIONS"

To understand the scope of ill feeling lingering toward Crowell, you have to consider more than his major policy decisions. The deregulation fight was inevitable (and is hardly dead, although the recent California catastrophes have put further efforts on hold), and strategic errors aren't necessarily moral failings.

But even as he grappled with the billion-dollar questions, Crowell wounded himself and his agency again and again with petty cash and petty politics. His term was marked by a series of front-page controversies that painted him as, on the one hand, excessively generous to himself and his friends, and on the other, harshly punitive to those who crossed him.

There were hints of what was to come during Crowell's time at TVA in the 1980s. Serving as vice president of government and public affairs under the slash-and-burn Runyon, Crowell ran into repeated criticism for the agency's spending on public relations and advertising. Although he had 81 full-time employees in the public affairs division, Crowell in 1988 and 1989 contracted with the Atlanta public relations firm Cohn and Wolfe for consulting work to the tune of $886,000. Also in 1988, in the midst of Runyon's most sweeping lay-offs, it was revealed that TVA had signed a $750,000 advertising contract with Whittle Communications as a chief sponsor of Whittle's new Tennessee Illustrated magazine (one of whose principals was none other than Crowell's old colleague Tom Ingram). After a public outcry, the contract was not renewed for a second year.

During Crowell's tenure as chairman, similar controversies arose time and again. His preoccupation with TVA's image resulted in a series of expensive and widely derided television advertisements that seemed self-indulgent for a monopoly. TVA spokesmen argued in response that the agency was merely positioning itself for competition, if and when it came. And a series of contracts with PR and lobbying firms in Washington, D.C.—which coincided with the period of TVA's worst public and government relations—raised even more ire. It didn't help that one of the firms contracted with, Seigenthaler Public Relations, was headed by Tom Seigenthaler, brother of Crowell's old Tennessean boss John Seigenthaler. Or that another, Arnold and Porter, was headed by Al Gore buddy Jack Quinn (in the news recently for his lobbying of Bill Clinton on behalf of tax fugitive Marc Rich).

Other five- and six-figure consulting contracts went to the likes of board members of the Nashville and Memphis utility companies, which just happen to be TVA's two largest distributors, and Elaine Chao, wife of Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, one of TVA's harshest congressional critics. (When questioned by the News-Sentinel, TVA spokesmen said they didn't know Chao was married to McConnell.)

But Crowell's biggest personal misstep came with something called the Center for Rural Studies.

In 1994, TVA announced it was going to use $30 million it won in a lawsuit over uranium price-fixing to establish a new rural economic development center in Kentucky. The Center for Rural Studies was at first hailed as an extension of TVA's traditional mission. But as the fine print came to light (first through the reporting of Metro Pulse publisher Joe Sullivan), it began to take on a different cast.

A subsequent series of investigations by TVA's own Office of Inspector General and the congressional General Accounting Office revealed that: Crowell had hired Larry Stein, a former colleague from Sasser's office, to run the CRS at a salary of $115,000; that Crowell had pressured TVA board member William Kennoy to vote for establishing the CRS, despite several concerns Kennoy raised; and most damning, that Crowell had named himself to an unlimited term as chairman of the CRS's Management Committee, with the power to both appoint and remove other members of the committee. To many, it looked like Crowell was setting himself up for a post-TVA job with a large salary and no accountability.

What's more, the GAO report that was eventually published on the CRS—tellingly titled, "Problems With Irrevocable Trust Raise Need for Additional Oversight"—suggested that Crowell had punished Kennoy for his opposition by launching an internal investigation of "improper conduct" by Kennoy. "Director Kennoy told us that he believes that Chairman Crowell used his contacts to initiate this matter," the report said. Further, when TVA Inspector General George Prosser cleared Kennoy of any impropriety, "Chairman Crowell reviewed the investigative report and prepared a written response, which was critical of the OIG investigation of Director Kennoy."

Subsequently, Prosser himself became the target of an FBI probe launched at the behest of the TVA board. Prosser was quoted in the press saying, "They want me out of there."(Prosser, who retired last year, declined comment for this article.)

The CRS controversy dragged on long after the CRS itself ceased to exist. The trust was revoked in 1995 following the first wave of news reports, and Stein resigned from TVA. The $30 million was returned to the agency's coffers. According to the GAO report, the Department of Justice had a hearing on the case, and after one day of grand jury testimony, concluded "that Chairman Crowell's actions as a TVA official benefited CRS and thus demonstrated that Chairman Crowell had committed a technical violation of the conflict-of-interest statute." But it didn't recommend any prosecution, because Crowell had apparently relied on an opinion from TVA's in-house ethics official that the CRS deal was legal.

All the scrutiny left scars, not least on Crowell's psyche. By all accounts, the one-time investigative reporter became increasingly embittered toward the press.

In 1999, Crowell announced he was moving 52 employees from Knoxville to Nashville. Although he said it was a move for efficiency, it was widely seen as an effort to establish more of a presence in his own hometown. (His fellow board member Johnny Hayes was also a Nashvillian.)

"I think his heart and soul have always been in Nashville," says Victor Ashe, who strongly opposed the relocations. Ashe, along with Knox County Executive Tommy Schumpert and a representative from the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, went to Crowell to plead the case for keeping the employees in Knoxville. But Ashe says it became clear the chairman had personal reasons for disdaining his adopted city.

"He basically spent half the meeting berating the News-Sentinel and [Washington, D.C., correspondent] Richard Powelson in particular for what he considered negative coverage, and the failure of the business community to stop that coverage," says Ashe, no stranger to bad press himself. "I was stunned that he let what he considered the negative coverage of a newspaper to so color his thinking."

BACK TO PUBLIC POWER

Lesser controversies continued to dog Crowell through the remainder of his term. Most recently, TVA has come under fire for hefty pensions, including one to Crowell's right-hand man, chief administrative officer Norman Zigrossi. (When contacted, Zigrossi, who retired in December, responded, "I'm away from there now. It was, on the whole, a great experience. I don't feel the need to attempt to discuss it in detail right now.")

But the past few years have also seen turn-arounds for the agency, some by design and some by circumstance.

The non-power programs did get the axe in Congress in 1997. Although Crowell belatedly tried to reverse course in the wake of outrage over his proposal to drop the funding, the damage was done. That left TVA committed to continue the non-power programs out of its own budget. Current TVA Director Glenn McCullough, who came onto the board in 1999 and is widely expected to be named the next chairman, says he has no sense of whether federal funding might be restored in the future. "That question would better be put for Senator Thompson, Senator Frist, members of Congress," he says. "We're self-financed, we're meeting the demands for electric power."

Also in 1997, Crowell announced a 10-year plan to begin paying down TVA's debt. It necessitated the only rate increase of Crowell's tenure (following 10 years of rate freezes dating back to Runyon's term), but even at that the 5.5 percent hike was smaller than some analysts had predicted. The plan included promises to TVA's 158 distributors, who have often complained about being locked into "rolling contracts" that prevent them from shopping elsewhere for power, that TVA's rates would be "competitive" with the regional marketplace by 2007.

In fact, the first few years of debt reduction haven't gone as well as predicted. TVA has paid down $2 billion, but Crowell also redirected $400 million into investments in new generating capacity. (Capacity remains a major concern, however, with the Valley's population still growing and the phrase "rolling blackouts" fresh in everyone's mind.)

In recent years, Crowell's speeches and essays have increasingly emphasized the concept of "public power," playing up TVA's government identity. It's a change of tack from the aggressive, pro-deregulation stance of the mid-'90s, and it seems to have assuaged some of the antipathy in Washington.

"It has come around," Wheeler says. "That's part of the timing problem. We have in a very short historical cycle swung the whole way around."

On the environmental front, TVA's plants remain one of the largest sources of air pollution in the region, and it is embroiled in a dispute with the Environmental Protection Agency over some of its smokestacks. But Crowell also joined Smith and other environmentalists in pioneering a new "Green Power" program. Customers of some TVA distributors, including KUB, can sign up to purchase slightly more expensive power from non-polluting sources like wind turbines and landfill gas.

Even the conservative Wamp gives TVA credit for those moves. "You can't bury your head in the sand and say these coal-fired emissions are acceptable," he says.

A "PRETTY GOOD LEGACY"?

One of Crowell's most persistent critics has been Dick Munson, executive director of the Northeast Midwest Institute in Washington, D.C. The non-profit group advocates for the economic and environmental interests of states from New England through the Great Lakes. It has long seen TVA as an unfair advantage for economic development in the Southeast and has lobbied for its privatization. In Crowell, Munson says almost wistfully, it had the perfect foil.

"There's part of me that will miss him, only because he provided us with such grist," he says. "Every time you turned around, there was some other controversy swirling around his management of the agency...Every time you turned around, there was something weird."

Crowell's likely successor is much more laudatory.

"Everyone's entitled to their own opinion," McCullough says. "But the operational performance of our corporation is up, our debt's down, and our rates are stable and competitive. That's a pretty good legacy."

Stephen Smith doesn't necessarily disagree. But, even leaving aside his continuing concerns about TVA's environmental commitment, he says any assessment of Crowell has to acknowledge how bad things got before they got better.

"He about lost it," he says, hands resting near a stack of TVA reports that document the long battles of the 1990s. "I don't know if we know how close they were."

Wheeler takes a longer view. Whatever the ups and downs of Crowell's term, he says, and whether people personally liked the chairman, the TVA he leaves is in better shape than the one he came to. The recent controversies over deregulation in California dovetail nicely with Crowell's belated championing of TVA's traditional public service mission.

"They look all of a sudden like they knew what they were doing all along," Wheeler says. Then he adds, with a chuckle, "Of course, we know better."

CROWELL ON CROWELL

How does Craven Crowell assess his own term as chairman of TVA? In a Jan. 18 letter to then-President Bill Clinton, he summed it up. Some excerpts follow:

Dear Mr. President:

On December 15, I informed employees of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) of my desire to retire from government service in April. The purpose of this letter is to notify you officially of my resignation as Chairman and Director of TVA, effective April 16, 2001.

...At the beginning of your administration, TVA faced enormous challenges. Bogged down by a 28-year policy of costly nuclear power construction, we were adding a billion dollars a year to TVA's long-term debt. In fact, the year before you became President, TVA increased its debt by $1.3 billion. TVA did not have a strategic plan for dealing with the problems of the present or with the impending challenges of the future.

Today, Mr. President, you can be proud knowing that TVA is financially sound and TVA's power system is operating more efficiently and cost effectively than at any time in the past three decades. I am pleased to report that all three of TVA's nuclear generating sites have been recognized for their operational excellence and have received the highest performance rating possible from the industry.

TVA has added more than 4,000 megawatts of new capacity since 1993—not only through investments in additional generation, but also through improvements to the efficiency and productivity of existing stations, including fossil and hydroelectric operations.

TVA's decision to end its nuclear construction program marked the end of one era and the beginning of another—a new era of fiscal responsibility in which TVA began paying down its debt for the first time after 35 years of continuous increases. At the conclusion of this fiscal year, TVA is expected to have reduced its debt by more than $2 billion.

...Also at the beginning of your administration, TVA needed to improve relations with its employees and retirees. Employees had suffered through extensive layoffs in the late 1980s that affected one-third of the workforce. These layoffs often came as a surprise and created mistrust among employees. Unfortunately, it has been necessary to reduce the workforce since 1993. But, the TVA Board has made every effort to foster an attitude of respect for the individuals affected.

...Environmental policy has been a centerpiece of your administration. As a regional resource management agency, TVA has expanded its efforts to protect the environment even beyond those required by law. Our new clean air strategy helps cities and states served by TVA meet more stringent air quality standards and provide greater flexibility for industrial and economic growth in the region. As examples, TVA has spent more than $2.6 billion to reduce pollution from its fossil generating plants and will spend more than $850 million more in the next few years. TVA has adopted a new shoreline management policy, launched a clean water initiative, and become the first utility in the Southeast to offer its customers electricity generated from "Green Power."

...Mr. President, as I depart from TVA to pursue other opportunities, I am pleased to report to you that TVA is stronger than ever, a more valuable asset for the nation, and well positioned to face the challenges of the future.

With warm regards,

Craven Crowell

© 2001 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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