TVAs Middle-Age Crisis

March 22, 1983

Report Outline
Half-Century Retrospective
State of American Utilities
What's Ahead for the Tva
Special Focus

Half-Century Retrospective

Showcase Agency's Problems at Fifty

After more than four decades of continuous growth during which it became a shining example of how the federal government could use American technological know-how to improve economic conditions throughout an entire region, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has fallen on hard times and now faces an uncertain future.

TVA's problems command national, not just regional, attention because they often mirror the problems of the entire U.S. electric industry for which the agency has long been a showcase. On May 18, the TVA will observe the 50th anniversary of its founding, marking a half-century of helping bring jobs and prosperity to the region it serves. The agency is a $17 billion federally owned corporation that sells electricity to about 2.8 million customers in Tennessee and portions of six other states. But problems, not progress, dominate the present scene. It will be required to make choices in the next few years that will affect the region and the entire industry. These choices arise from a set of questions now being debated:

  • Can the TVA rescue its huge nuclear construction program—after having been forced to suspend construction of eight nuclear plants in recent years due to spiraling costs and increasing safety regulations?