Past Successes Pave Way for Bright Future in 2019

December 27, 2018

TVA Board Chair Richard Howorth Reflects

With a new calendar year ahead and TVA CEO Bill Johnson’s recent retirement announcement concluding his six-year term of leadership, now is an appropriate time to reflect on his leadership and TVA’s next steps. Bill Johnson’s tenure is marked by a number of achievements, some of which bear mention here:

  • Internal costs have been reduced by a sustainable $800 million over the past 5 years.
  • Reliability — critical to our customers — has improved consistently. We've had 19 straight years of 99.999 percent reliability, with this past year proving to be the TVA system’s most reliable in its history.
  • Increased operational efficiency has had a dramatic impact on lowering fuel costs, such that, while we have had base rate increases, we’ve offset that with fuel savings due to the investments and performance of our fleet. Overall, our customers are paying today a rate that’s essentially the same as what they were paying back in 2013.
  • Much of this efficiency is due to the completion of Watts Bar II, the only nuclear plant to have been completed successfully this century.
  • The funded status of TVA’s pension had experienced significant volatility and a decline in funded status.  A 20-year plan was developed to put the pension plan on a path back to full funding.  This involved benefit and funding changes. The funded status has improved and currently ahead of the plan.
  • Economic development successes, in conjunction with our partners in 2018, resulted in 65,400 jobs and $11.3 billion in capital investment, a record high. This means more jobs for residents across the Valley and salaries that are above average per capita income.
  • Debt reduction last year was $1.7 billion, bringing TVA’s debt to its lowest level in 25 years, which reduces interest expense in future years, which means lower rates for you.
  • Stewardship improvements, some of which include a new Public Land Protection policy, and, this last year, a more aggressive approach to renewable energy, including a recent 500-megawatt solar farm, the likes of which, through continued investment in solar technologies, we will continue to see in the imminent future.TVA’s carbon footprint has been reduced by nearly 50 percent since 2005, giving us all cleaner air to breathe.
  • More than half of the energy TVA supplied to the Valley in 2018 came from carbon-free sources.    

The nine of us who are part-time citizen employees of TVA and who have the privilege and responsibility to serve on the TVA board have been able to see first-hand Bill Johnson’s leadership — his vision, his ability to communicate and engage effectively with TVA’s 154 distributor customers and with TVA’s workforce — and the difference that leadership has made. Make no mistake about this, however, it is the focus and work of TVA employees throughout the system that have made this success possible.

We still have challenges ahead — we must continue our focus on reducing TVA’s debt in order to provide low rates and build flexibility for the changing future.  We must protect the grid and provide reliable power as our load changes and we add distributed energy resources throughout the Valley. And we must continue our work in environmental stewardship, protecting the great natural resources of this Valley by caring for the river system and responsibly addressing environmental impacts.

We now have the duty to find Bill Johnson’s replacement. That process is underway, and we will search thoroughly to find the best person for the job. The next CEO will have a hard job, as I am sure Bill Johnson would be the first to say it isn’t easy. But he or she will step into an organization that is in good shape, one that remains faithful to its mission to serve the people of the Valley by providing cleaner, low-cost, reliable power to the people of the Tennessee Valley.

On behalf of the TVA Board, allow me to express thanks — and Happy Holidays — to Bill Johnson, to the TVA co-op and municipal and industrial customers we serve, to TVA’s hard-working employees, and to the many people we serve who support TVA’s mission, one that is both historic and very much alive today.

Contact

Scott Fiedler
TVA Public Relations, Knoxville, (865) 632-6000

tvainfo@tva.gov
(423) 751-7883
Chattanooga, TN