Tennessee Valley Authority Company History Timeline

(40 Jobs)

58, enacted May 18, 1933, codified as amended at 16 United StatesC. § 831, et seq.), creating the TVA. TVA was designed to modernize the region, using experts and electricity to combat human and economic problems.

TVA’s original 1933 purpose—set forth in the TVA Act—was to address the Valley's most important issues in energy, environmental stewardship and economic development.

In 1933 Harry Hopkins, Director of the Federal Emergency Relief Organization (FERA), asked journalist Lorena Hickok to travel through the United States and report on the state of the nation.

The idea behind the Muscle Shoals project in 1933 became a core part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal Tennessee Valley Authority.


Hickok was in the Tennessee Valley during June, 1934, and sent two reports to Hopkins recording her impression of the local scene and the local reaction to TVA.

By 1934, TVA employed more than 9,000 people.


In 1935 John D. Battle, Executive Secretary of the National Coal Association, testified before a Congressional Hearing on TVA. Battle spoke for many in the utility business who were concerned about the federal government’s entry into the power business:

Statement of John D. Battle, Executive Secretary of the National Coal Association [excerpts], in Hearings before the Committee on Military Affairs, House of Representatives (74th Cong., 1st Sess., 1935).


In February 1936 the Supreme Court ruled that TVA had the authority to generate power at Wilson Dam, to sell the electricity, and to distribute that electricity.


In 1937 the Federal Theatre Project, an agency of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which had been created to provide work for unemployed actors and theater workers, produced the Living Newspaper Power.


In 1939 the Court upheld the constitutionality of the TVA Act.


By 1941 TVA had become the largest producer of electrical power in the United States.


Also in 1942, TVA's first coal-fired plant, the 267-megawatt Watts Bar Steam Plant, began operation.


By the time the dam generated power in early 1945, the electricity was directed to another purpose in addition to aluminum manufacturing.


In 1955 coal surpassed hydroelectricity as TVA's top generating source.


On August 6, 1959 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law an amendment to the TVA act, making the agency self-financing.

Serving as the nation’s largest electricity supplier, TVA benefited from 1959 legislation that made our power system self-financing.


TVA's first nuclear reactor, Browns Ferry Unit 1, began operation in 1974.


On August 6, 1981 the Tennessee Valley Authority Board voted to defer the Phipps Bend plant, as well as to slow down construction on all other projects.


Marvin T. Runyon became chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority in January 1988.


In 1996, Watts Bar Unit 1 began operation.


On December 22, 2008, an earthen dike at TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant broke, spreading one billion gallons of wet coal ash across 300 acres (1.2 km) of land and into the tributaries of the Tennessee River.

The TVA Office of the Inspector General's report, Inspection 2008-12283-02, Review of the Kingston Fossil Plant Ash Spill Cause Study and Observations About Ash Management, concluded that TVA culture had contributed to the spill.


In 2009, to gain more access to sustainable, green energy, TVA signed 20-year power purchase agreements with Maryland-based CVP Renewable Energy Co. and Chicago-based Invenergy Wind LLC for electricity generated by wind farms.


In April 2011 TVA reached an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), four state governments, and three environmental groups to drastically reduce pollution and carbon emissions.


As of 2013, TVA carried $25 billion in debt, near the $30 billion debt limit imposed by Congress.


Source: TVA: Electricity for All, http://newdeal.feri.org/tva/tva01.htm, New Deal Network, http://newdeal.feri.org (April 23, 2014)


In 2018, TVA opened a new cybersecurity center in its downtown Chattanooga Office Complex.


In early February 2020, TVA awarded an outside company, Framatome, several multi-million-dollar contracts for work across the company’s reactor fleet.

As the electric-utility industry moved toward restructuring and deregulation, TVA began preparing for competition. It cut operating costs by nearly $950 million a year, reduced its workforce by more than half, increased the generating capacity of its plants, and developed a plan to meet the energy needs of the Tennessee Valley through the year 2020.

Company Founded
Knoxville, TN
Company Headquarter
Franklin Roosevelt,George Norris
Company Founders

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