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TVA learns 'painful lessons' from spill

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Tennessee Valley Authority President and CEO Tom Kilgore said Thursday the federal utility is making good progress in cleaning up the Kingston ash spill site and is restructuring its operations to better serve customers and successfully address the environmental, regulatory and financial issues that will face the electric power industry in the coming years.

“Despite TVA’s many attributes, we know from recent experience that there is much we can do to make it a better organization. And my message to you today is that we’re doing it,” Kilgore said in a speech to the Chattanooga Rotary Club. Kilgore said TVA is taking the “good, the bad and the ugly” from 2009 into account in launching a “top-to-bottom effort to improve how TVA is structured, managed and operated.”

“We will never make it perfect,” Kilgore said of the 12,000-employee federal corporation that provides power, economic development assistance and environmental stewardship to a seven-state region. “But, we can make it better.”

TVA has a long record of accomplishment in its more than 75 years of operations, yet Kilgore said he is convinced that “for TVA to survive another 75 years, it must change.”

Kilgore said TVA has learned important and painful lessons as a result of the Dec. 22, 2008, ash spill at the Kingston Fossil Plant. Those lessons are now being applied throughout the organization.

“We’re creating a culture of accountability, so that every individual, not out of fear but out of a sense of proactive duty, takes responsibility individually so the organization can be responsible collectively,” Kilgore said.

The chief executive said this is more than a “shuffle-the-deck-chairs” reorganization. Rather, he said TVA has begun one of the most comprehensive assessments in its history as the utility prepares for a future that will require new sources of power generation and tougher environmental requirements.

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