Tennessee Valley Authority
Senator Thompson has been a leader in the fight to ensure that the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and its customers are treated fairly. In the face of opposition from the White House and the House of Representatives, Senator Thompson and Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) fought to preserve federal funding for TVA?s non-power programs. When it became clear that, although the Senate supported this funding, the House would not approve it, Senators Thompson and Frist successfully engineered passage of legislation allowing TVA to refinance the $3.2 billion in debt it owed to the Federal Financing Bank (FFB). This debt refinancing will save TVA over $100 million every year for the next decade ? more than enough to continue to fully fund its land and water stewardship responsibilities.
In addition, Senator Thompson supports the consensus ?TVA title? agreed to by TVA, all 159 of its distributors, and the Tennessee Valley Industrial Committee (TVIC) for inclusion in comprehensive electricity restructuring legislation being considered by Congress. Senator Thompson, Senator Frist, and Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) have introduced this consensus title as a stand-alone bill in the Senate (S. 2570), and have urged their colleagues on the Senate Energy Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to consider it as they debate TVA?s role in a deregulated environment.
During his time as Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which has oversight responsibility over all federal agencies, Senator Thompson has also closely examined the management of TVA. Last year, Senator Thompson asked the General Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate an ongoing dispute between the TVA Inspector General (IG) and the TVA Board. After receiving the GAO report, Senator Thompson introduced legislation (S. 1707) to enhance the independence of the TVA IG by making this position presidentially appointed, rather than one that is hired and fired by the TVA Board. The Senate passed this legislation unanimously on November 19, 1999.
In addition, Thompson asked the GAO to examine issues surrounding the Center for Rural Studies, a $30 million irrevocable trust established by the TVA Board in 1994 and terminated a year later. The Governmental Affairs Committee is continuing its investigation into this matter.
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