Tennessee Valley Authority:

Information on Nonpower Programs

RCED-98-133R: Published: Mar 31, 1998. Publicly Released: Apr 22, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) nonpower programs, focusing on: (1) the nonpower roles and responsibilities carried out by TVA and by selected investor-owned utilities (IOU); and (2) a comparison of TVA's nonpower programs with programs managed by selected IOUs.

GAO noted that: (1) when it was created in 1933, TVA was charged with improving navigability and controlling the flood waters of the Tennessee River and with promoting the agricultural and industrial development of the Tennessee Valley; (2) the generation and transmission of hydroelectric power was authorized to be a secondary benefit resulting from these activities; (3) TVA responded to this mandate by constructing numerous dams and hydroelectric power facilities on the Tennessee River and its tributaries; maintaining hundreds of thousands of acres of public land for a variety of purposes, such as recreation and natural resource management; and maintaining flood easements affecting hundreds of thousands of acres; (4) the selected IOUs do not have such comprehensive nonpower roles and responsibilities; (5) instead, they constructed their dams and hydroelectric power facilities primarily to provide electric power; their nonpower roles and responsibilities are tied to the terms and conditions in their operating license provided by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, such as protecting fish and wildlife, and recreation; (6) the selected utilities have some programs, such as ones for dam safety, that are similar to nonpower programs operated by TVA; (7) furthermore, flood control and navigation programs tend to be viewed by TVA, investor-owned utilities, and other officials as federal responsibilities and are carried out by a federal entity, such as TVA or the Army Corps of Engineers; and (8) finally, TVA has some unique programs--such as the operation and maintenance of Land Between The Lakes, a 170,000-acre national recreation area, and the operation of an environmental research center.

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