Always Learning

A staffer's trip to check out the TVA's operations

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Washington, August 11, 2017 | comments
Guest blog post by Kyle, Congressman Blackburn's Communications Director

During this August recess, I had the opportunity to join other congressional staff for an overview of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s operations in the Chattanooga area. The TVA plays a large role in the lives of so many Seventh District residents, and it is important to Congressman Blackburn, so it was essential to see firsthand why we need to make certain TVA remains productive and able to meet the energy needs of the Tennessee Valley. I was constantly impressed with the devotion and dedication to the customers every TVA employee exhibited as we looked at the various aspects of the TVA.

Safe, Reliable and Economic Power

On our trip, it was immediately clear that the TVA and its employees have reliability and affordability at the forefront of all their decisions. They strive to make sure that their power supply is always available and they utilize a number of practices to keep costs as low as possible. They have put together a true “all-of-the-above” energy portfolio including nuclear, coal, hydro, wind, natural gas, and solar. This allows them to deliver an abundance pf power to service providers all across the over 80,000 square miles it services in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Virginia.

A view of the four massive turbines at the Raccoon Mountain facility. Combined they can produce over 1,600 megawatts of power!

The TVA is self-funded, turning profits into cost savings for you, economic development initiatives, and even sending some money back to the federal government!

Economic Development

Not only is TVA committed to its users, it is also dedicated to improving the communities it serves. Everywhere we went – from Sequoia Nuclear Plant to the Raccoon Mountain hydroelectric facility – efforts were in place to work with the neighboring communities to spur business investments, provide educational and recreational resources, and create jobs for local residents.

The employees at the Sequoia Nuclear Plant were extremely proud of their work with the Partners in Education and Sequoia Spirit Fund – programs that raised funds for local school districts and provided mentorship and tutoring for school children. At Raccoon Mountain, I was impressed with the commitment to making sure the mountain served both the TVA and the community. Not only does this facility provide an immense amount of power and serve as a cost-saving storage facility, the mountain has been turned into a recreation and learning center. Enthusiasts can spend time hiking or mountain biking the trails built on the mountain, school groups and naturists can learn all they want at the learning center the TVA built, and everyone can take a moment to simply enjoy the stunning views of the gorge from the top of the mountain.

A view of the Tennessee River Gorge from the top of Raccoon Mountain.

It is a true partnership the TVA aims to build with the people it serves.

Responsible Stewardship

Another standout goal of the TVA is responsible stewardship of the land and resources it uses. The people of the TVA are well aware of the importance of the Tennessee River system and the public land it occupies across the valley.

A boat tour of the Tennessee River highlighted the wildlife and ecological considerations TVA makes in its operations

They know you depend on it as much, if not more, than they do, and they are working hard to not only protect, but enhance the area. From reforestation to habitat enhancement to ecotourism, the TVA aims to leave the smallest footprint possible.


Going far beyond being a simple power company, the TVA has made itself a neighbor to its customers. It was fantastic to see the role it played in bring reliable and efficient power to so many households in Tennessee, but it was equally impressive to see how far beyond it really goes. The trip was enlightening and provided a good look into what the TVA does for the people it serves and the people we serve here in the Congressman’s office.

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