KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Valley Authority’s plan to do away with non-power programs by 1999 is a gamble to save the federal agency from dissolution or privatization, a University of Tennessee history professor said Wednesday.
Dr. Bruce Wheeler, UT-Knoxville history professor and author of the book “TVA and the Tellico Dam,” said agency chairman Craven Crowell may have in mind cutting back TVA in order to save it.
“Crowell senses mounting opposition from the right and left, so this is ‘Crowell’s Gamble’ to save the agency by cutting it back,” Wheeler said. “If he wins, he has an agency that’s stronger than it has been since the 1960s.”
Not that TVA really wants to give up permanently the non-power programs, Wheeler said.
“In a couple of years, the states, the counties and the communities in the TVA region could very well go to Congress and say, ‘you’ve got to make TVA take these functions back and you have got to fund them because there is no one else that can do them,”‘ Wheeler said.
Which may be what the TVA chairman has in mind, said Wheeler, adding, “I don’t think Crowell was appointed to say prayers over TVA.”
Wheeler said questions about TVA programs are as old as the agency.
“People have been trying to figure out what Franklin Roosevelt had in mind since he created the agency,” Wheeler said.
TVA’s non-power programs include environmental research, Tennessee River navigation and water quality, and public land and recreation area management. Approximately 2,000 persons are employed in the programs throughout TVA’s service region.
Contact: Dr. Bruce Wheeler (423-974-7089)