The TVA Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow

By Betsy Thorpe

The Tennessean
Nashville Tennessee
May 18, 1963

“We are saluting the 30th anniversary of the Tennessee Valley Authority, which transformed a parched, depressed, and floodravaged region into a fertile, productive center of industry, science, and agriculture”.

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Vanderbilt University, May 18th, 1963.

The Tennessee Valley Authority was established by Congress in 1933 to assist farmers by providing affordable electric power, “and for the general purpose of fostering an orderly and proper physical, economic, and social development” throughout the Tennessee Valley.

In an address to congress on April 10 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt proposed the development of the Tennessee Valley Authority, by saying “The continued idleness of a great national investment in the Tennessee Valley leads me to ask the Congress for legislation necessary to enlist this project in the service of the people“. “Such use, if envisioned in its entirely, transcends mere power development; it enters the wide fields of flood control, soil erosion, reforestation, elimination from agricultural use of marginal lands, and distribution and diversification of industry. In short, this power development of war days leads logically to national planning for a complete river watershed involving many States and the future lives and welfare of millions. It touches and gives life to all forms of human concerns“. On May 18, 1933 President Roosevelt signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act. The signing of the act occurred during the first hundred days of the New Deal, an initiative designed to bring relief to the unemployed, and to promote economic recovery during The Great Depression.

On April 18 2009, and approaching his first hundred days in office President Obama said “It’s not news to say that we are living through challenging times: The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.” He also said “our future depends on building a new energy economy”. Today as the TVA marks its 76th anniversary it is the nation’s largest public power provider. In response to President Obama’s call to action and in the spirit of President Roosevelt’s entire vision, the agency is working in cooperation with the environmental community to find ways to bring electricity generated by renewable resources to Tennessee Valley consumers, to protect “the future lives and welfare of millions“.


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