Thursday, January 8, 2009

TVA Gives Customers The Middle Finger

Here’s a headline that was entirely predictable, and utterly despicable:
Costs of TVA sludge spill to show on electric bills


TVA's ratepayers will be saddled with the cost to clean up a massive coal ash slide at an East Tennessee power plant, the agency's chairman said.

The tab, likely to be tens of millions of dollars or more, will include the cost of extra workers, overtime pay, heavy machinery, and housing and supplies for families chased from their homes, along with the lawsuits that have begun to pile up.

"This is going to get into rates sooner or later," Tennessee Valley Authority Chairman Bill Sansom told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "We haven't even thought about going to Washington for it."

First of all, “tens of millions” is wildly conservative. Steve Smith of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy puts it more like $100 million, not including costs for things like lawsuits. Last night I spent the evening with a TWRA biologist who has been working on monitoring the site, and he estimated the cost to be more like $150 million.

But second of all: WTF?

Just a week ago we learned of the multi-million dollar bonuses TVA executives received:

According to federal documents, the CEO of TVA, Tom Kilgore, makes $655,000 a year. In addition to his salary, he received an incentive bonus of more than $1 million for 2008, bringing his total income to $2.4 million.

TVA's chief financial officer, Kimberly Green, earned a salary of $503,000 in 2008 and received a bonus of $493,000, which made for an income of $1.3 million.

William McCollum, the chief operating officer, earned $726,000, with a $751,000 bonus, for a total of $1.8 million.

Incentive bonus? Incentive for what--destroying people's lives? Destroying wildlife and water and soil?

Why are we rewarding these people with bonuses when they just destroyed a rather large area of East Tennessee? No way, no how. I want those bonuses back. You don’t get rewarded for causing the largest environmental disaster since the ExxonValdez spill.

TVA managers decided to cut corners on overdue repairs to their leaky coal ash sludge pond, going the el-cheapo spit-and-a-prayer route. The most expensive route would have been a $25 million “global fix” but that was deemed too expensive. And now we’re looking at “tens of millions of dollars”--try more like $100 million-plus--that utility customers have to pay to make up for their mistake. While TVA executives take in big bonuses for not doing their jobs.

Thanks a lot, TVA. Love you back, lots. Please, someone tell me how can I get off the grid, pronto.