The TVA is a self-financed government agency with approximately 13,000 employees, as of 2002 estimates.
It realized a $6.99 billion sales from hydroelectric power generation, fossil fuel, electric power generation, nuclear power generation, other electric power generation, electric bulk power transmission and control and electric power distribution. Its mission is to bring prosperity to the Tennessee Valley through excellent business performance and public service. These are to be achieved by supplying low-cost but reliable power, maintaining a thriving River, and fostering economic growth throughout the southeaster region, traversing 7 States. At the peak of its growth, TVA was serving more than 8 million users in more than 80,000 square miles of region
The TVA's integrated management of water resources, combined with its exceptional institutional capacity enabled it to lift one of the poorest regions in the U.S. into a strong economy and healthy environment today.
It accomplished this through its broad-based local programs and extensive physical infrastructure. In its early years, TVA set up a healthy natural resource base, a strong infrastructure and the human pool to work for the social and economic development of the region. As it was envisioned by President Roosevelt, TVA was a river basin equipped with the authority and resources as a planning unit and watershed to realize that development. There were issues surrounding relocations and resettlements but TVA responded to these through speedy and quantifiable economic development. The people's income and standard of living in the region grew dramatically. Flood control, navigation and power generation were viewed and managed as a means to advance the people's social and economic well-being. Resource development went under a single agency, the TVA, which functions in its own headquarters in the region itself, rather than as a branch of the central government in Washington.
The organizational structure of the TVA for almost 68 years has consisted of 3 board directors, a general manager and operating divisions.
Its broad responsibility has been to set down policies for implementation by the general manager, later a chief executive officer. Policy-making has been centralized, but the planning, management and implementation have been decentralized. Planning has always been drawn from operations and physical development programs. Decision-making among the operating arms has been self-coordinated. Conflicts and other issues are addressed and resolved at the lowest possible working level, rising to high management levels if persistent. An advantage of this framework has been that it kept TVA action-oriented and grounded on tasks that have actual relevance to the lives of the people in the region. This and cooperation with local agencies attracted widespread support and brought success to the development and construction phases. The downside was that transition from a development role to a management and stewardship role. The lack of centralized planning also thwarted TVA from fulfilling its local mission. Fierce competition was stimulated, as a consequence.
One major criticism against TVA was the lack of system to examine and oversee its structure and operations.
There were attempts to correct this defect in 1988 with organizational changes. These were increasing the authority of the Board; increasing its competitiveness in the field; more efficient operation of the water control system; and a business-like operational system. Restructuring continues to the present to address lags in competitiveness. As it is, TVA is the fifth largest river system in the U.S. It covers 650 miles of navigable river; 11,000 miles of public shorelines; 480,000 acres of recreation lakes; and 25 flood control dams. It has served 6 million customers with its fossil, nuclear, hydro and combustion turbine fuel sources. U.S.$829 million has been invested in the Valley; U.S.$23 million worth of loans has been committed for its economic development; and U.S.$951 million for goods and services businesses. Its total assets are worth U.S.$33 billion and it has a total debt of U.S.$26.
A Review of TVA Today
TVA derives its legal authority from the TVA Act of 1933.
This Act grants the agency broad powers for multi-resource conservation and regional planning and to create its own projects, . Its natural resource programs have been traditionally funded by the U.S. Congressional appropriates. But its budget has been less than 5% of its annual revenue in the last decade or before it. TVA's only partially successful initiative into nuclear power has been viewed as a misguided and costly decision, as it led to indebtedness. Congress had to raise the debt ceiling to adjust to the indebtedness problem. In itself, this advantage was not even granted to the private sector business. Considerations of the future of its non-power programs led to the scrapping of the budget for these programs for the year 2000 and after. The agency at present funds its own non-power programs from its own revenues. Analysts see an annual revenue at U.S.$6 billion against an accumulated debt of more than $20 billion as not a sound condition, per today's business standards.
One of TVA's major strengths and assets is its strong local base.
This mainly consists of grassroots support, interest groups, the Congressional Caucus; and other federal agencies. The grassroots, residents of the Valley and the State and local governments have widely supported TVA on account of its long history and existence. The very success of its programs is at least partly attributed to its commitment to federal, State and local agencies; regional and national interest groups; and the residents of the Valley. TVA has linked up with other federal agencies on flood control and navigation. It has cooperated with the States in the jurisdiction in adjusting lake levels for tourism, recreation and economic development. These supporters have helped improve fish habitat, protect endangered species in the region, improve water quality, and increase recreational and economic opportunities. Available public access telephone lines and internet sites also provide information and communication facilities to the public on TVA activities, dam developments and related information. While it cooperates with the public and provides these resources, its overall reservoir system continues to operate to the optimum level and the greatest benefits of the people in the entire region.
Between its creation in 1933 and the end of World War II, the TVA earned the distinction as a multi-resource agency, according to the vision of President Roosevelt. From its beginnings, the TVA evolved from a combination of major forces, such as need, champions, opportunity, vision and early tangible results. The fact is that it has no duplicate in the U.S. As a government entity. For all its advantages and disadvantages, the TVA's concepts of comprehensive river basin management became useful as a model to other river basins in the U.S. And in the world. Its distinctive characteristics remain, nevertheless. These are integrated regional water resources and economic development; autonomy and control over natural resources; centralized policy-making through decentralized decision-making; high professional standards within the operating ranks; grassroots support and participation; strong regional identity; and action-oriented-ness, which delivers early and measurable results.
Whatever becomes or happens to the TVA, it will remain one of the few long-term successes stories in the field of natural resources development and management. Its creation and evolution of its institutions and programs can guide the implementation of policies and practices of similar entities at present or in the future at both a regional basis and more extensive levels. The application of the TVA model, however, will depend on the feasibility of replicating its successes and specific characteristics. A number of lessons can be learned from the TVA Its success largely depended on the strengths of its leaders and champions, and its ability to produce and show measurable results at an erly time. Its greatest endowment consists of a composite of a healthy natural resource base, a strong supportive infrastructure, and the human factor of social and economic development for the region. Its institutional structure worked well in its early years but also brought in failures and problems, especially relating to change. Developments point to its greatest internal and external challenge has been the tension between its twin function of a multi-resource development agency with a mission and as a utility.#
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