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Senators Resist Obama Budget Proposal to Sell TVA

A proposal in President Obama's fiscal year 2014 budget would reduce the deficit and place a government-owned utility in private hands - ostensibly Republican goals - but it is being opposed by Tennessee's senior Republican Senator, Lamar Alexander.
April 18, 2013, 8am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Ryan Tracy and Mike Cherney write two articles on the budget proposal to consider the sale of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a huge utility composed of dams and nuclear power plants originally built as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal to create jobs during the Great Depression, control flooding, and provide hydroelectric power for a seven-state region.

In the April 11 article, Tracy notes the budget's reference to TVA:

"Reducing or eliminating the Federal Government's role in programs such as TVA, which have achieved their original objectives and no longer require Federal participation, can help put the Nation on a sustainable fiscal path," the budget said.

The following day, Tracy and Cherney write that several senators have joined with Tennessee's senior senator, Lamar Alexander, in opposing the sale, including "Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Energy Committee". Wyden may be concerned that should the sale of TVA go through, next might be the Dept. of Energy-owned Bonneville Power Administration, based in Portland that "markets wholesale electrical power from 31 federal hydro projects in the Columbia River Basin."

While the TVA is funded by the ratepayers, it is owned by the U.S., unlike most other utilities that are privately owned, such as the debt-ridden Energy Future Holdings Corp. in Texas that "revealed plans for a potential bankruptcy filing" on April 15, or publicly owned by municipalities, such as the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Neither type of utility enjoys the benefits in the bond market of being owned by the federal government.

Correspondent's note: Links to both Wall Street Journal articles will provide complete access to non-subscribers until April 24.

Full Story:
Published on Friday, April 12, 2013 in The Wall Street Journal
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