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TVA will release executives' salaries to newspaper

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has agreed to release the salaries of top administrators following a request by the Knoxville News Sentinel.

The newspaper sought the amount of the salaries through an open records request, but it was initially denied, according to a story published yesterday.

David Mould, TVA’s senior vice president for communications, told the newspaper later yesterday they will comply with the request.

The newspaper requested the names, job titles and salary compensation packages of TVA employees making more than $180,000 per year and living in Knox and Anderson counties.

Mould said the Freedom of Information Act is open to interpretation and a good business argument could be made for not releasing the information.

“The withholding would be justified,” he said, but he added, “I don’t want us to go through a proceeding.”

TVA freedom of information officer Denise Smith initially told the newspaper in a May 3 letter that the information is protected from disclosure under exemptions to the federal open records law.

“Public release of individual TVA employee’s salary and compensation would place TVA at a competitive disadvantage in the employment market,” Smith wrote. “Further, TVA employees have a privacy interest in their compensation which is not outweighed by a public interest.”

TVA’s initial denial of the request drew rebukes from congressmen and open government advocates.

The newspaper said it wanted the information for its Book of Lists directory. Past editions have included a list of the area’s highest paid public employees.

The agency has released salaries of its top five administrators in its annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the latest report, TVA president and CEO Tom Kilgore, who lives in the Knoxville area, received $1.16 million in total compensation for 2009.

In a separate item, a federal judge has ordered Tennessee Valley Authority president and CEO Tom Kilgore to give a deposition about the utility’s huge 2008 coal ash spill west of Knoxville.

U.S. Magistrate Bruce Guyton yesterday ordered the deposition that TVA attorneys oppose. The order sought by attorneys for people seeking damages from the Dec. 2008 spill says Kilgore has “unique personal knowledge of the events and relevant matters.”

The order directs plaintiff attorneys to work with TVA on a schedule.

TVA representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The court has already said TVA is not liable for punitive damages in the suits.

The utility expects to soon finish dredging the arsenic- and mercury-laced ash from the river and will work on the remaining spill area for several years.


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