Wednesday, November 14, 2018

TVA CEO Set to Retire in April

Posted By on Wed, Nov 14, 2018 at 11:49 AM

click to enlarge CEO Bill Johnson - TVA
  • TVA
  • CEO Bill Johnson

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) president and CEO Bill Johnson will retire next year, the utility announced Wednesday.

The TVA board will conduct an internal and external search for Johnson's replacement, which could take a couple of months. He will remain as CEO through the process and help to transition the new leader into the role.

Johnson, 64, joined TVA in 2013 as the organization's second CEO. He is the highest-paid federal employee with a pay and benefits package that tops $6 million.

"He improved TVA’s financial health and operational performance, engaged TVA employees, and established better relationships with our customers, elected officials, industry regulators, and community leaders,” TVA board chairman Richard Howorth said in a statement.

Here's a list TVA offered of the milestones achieved during Johnson's tenure:

• TVA debt reduced by $3.5 billion

• reduced the effective price of energy for TVA customers 2 percent from 2013 levels

• diversified TVA’s energy portfolio, and making significant progress toward cleaner energy options

• completed and is bringing online the nation’s first new nuclear power plant of the 21st century, Watts Bar Nuclear Unit 2, and improved the performance of TVA’s entire nuclear fleet

• completed the Paradise combined-cycle natural gas plant ahead of schedule and $220 million under budget

• completed the state-of-the-art Allen combined-cycle plant [in Memphis] for reliability, reduced emissions, and flexibility

• completed the $1 billion clean-air improvement project at Gallatin Fossil Plant

• maintained 99.999 percent reliability in the delivery of TVA power while investing in the power system

• began work on a $300 million multi-year initiative to upgrade the power system’s fiber optic telecommunication system

"TVA has a direct, positive impact on the quality of life in the Tennessee Valley, and I have been privileged and honored to lead this organization and the great people who work here,” said Johnson in a statement.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker said Johnson "has exceeded all expectations."

"With a focus on economic development, improving rate competitiveness, reducing debt, and increasing customer satisfaction, Bill and his team have ensured TVA will continue to play a critical role in the economic success of the Tennessee Valley for decades to come," Corker said.

Johnson was also widely criticized for adding luxury jets and a luxury helicopter to the TVA fleet. TVA was also scolded by its own Office of Inspector General for the use of those aircraft.

click to enlarge TVA CEO Bill Johnson (right) met resistance to the new rate change when he visited Memphis earlier this year. - MAYA SMITH
  • Maya Smith
  • TVA CEO Bill Johnson (right) met resistance to the new rate change when he visited Memphis earlier this year.

During his time, TVA was also criticized for drilling wells into the Memphis Sand Aquifer for a plan to pump 3.5 gallons of the city's famously pure drinking water to cool its new energy plant here. Johnson told Memphis City Council members he would have made another choice if he had the decision to do over.

Johnson's appearance at Memphis City Hall earlier this year prompted protests over a TVA proposal to change the city's energy rates.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s executive director Stephen Smith issued this statement in response to today’s announcement:

“For the last six years, Bill Johnson has steered TVA in the direction of serving corporate interests over public interests, evident in preferential rates and rate restructuring for corporate customers which have caused residential and small businesses’ energy bills to rise.

TVA has primarily been focused on serving large corporations’ interest in renewable energy, leaving behind small businesses and households that also want to take advantage of this cleaner, more independent energy choice.

And TVA has been consistently opaque, hiding details about policy decisions from public scrutiny and being less transparent, as we saw with this week’s so-called listening session which was neither web-streamed nor held the same day as the board meeting itself.

We believe it is imperative for the board to appoint a successor with a demonstrated commitment to and interest in public power values.”

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