- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2006



After complaints about the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) swapping away waterfront

land to private developers, the utility’s new chairman said political winds have shifted and the utility’s property should be treated “like national park land.”

An expanded TVA board imposed a moratorium on further sales or leases of TVA land six weeks after taking office in late March and next week will hold a public hearing in Knoxville that is expected to lead to new policies on shoreline development this fall.

The board, which was expanded from three full-time members to eight part-time members, now has greater geographic diversity. That may remove some of the local politics from the federal utility’s decision-making, TVA Chairman Bill Sansom told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

“When you have eight people — soon to have nine — on the board, you do have a broader thought process to help mold this thing where it ought to be,” said Mr. Sansom, a Knoxville businessman.

He said TVA should avoid rushing into any land sales for short-term profits.

“It’s kind of like national park land,” Mr. Sansom said of the 293,000 acres TVA manages in Tennessee and parts of Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

“The shareholder for TVA is the federal government, and I think this board understands that we have a different responsibility to its citizens than some private company,” Mr. Sansom said.

TVA Director Susan Richardson Williams, who heads the panel, said she hopes the group will be able to recommend a new land policy to the full board this fall.

The previous TVA board in the past three years approved land swaps allowing Chattanooga developer John “Thunder” Thornton and Loudon developer Mike Ross to build more than $1 billion of lakefront resorts and golf courses on the Tellico and Nickajack reservoirs.

More big developments are looming. The mayors of Rhea and Meigs counties are asking TVA to give up land on Watts Bar Lake for projects, but environmental and conservation groups are opposed.

TVA was created in 1933 to harness the power of the Tennessee River and promote economic development in southern Appalachia.

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