270 Energy:Auction Off the Assets of the Tennessee Valley Authority

Savings in Millions of Dollars
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023
  • 2024
  • 2025
  • 2016-2020
  • 2016-2025


Savings derived from 2011 CBO budget options, found on page 20 of CBO, “Reducing the Deficit: Spending and Revenue Options,” March 2011. The CBO’s estimate provides data for the 2012–2021 period. Because the annual outlays reflect the timing of the transfer (with costs in the initial years and savings in the out years), and because there is no reason to assume a significant change in these costs and savings between 2011 and the present, Heritage analysts directly applied the CBO’s estimated 2011–2021 outlays and savings to the 2016–2025 time period.


Technical Notes on Scoring

CBO Baseline

Unless otherwise noted, calculations for savings for each recommendation relies on the most recent Congressional Budget Office baseline, as found in “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” published August 27, 2014, has been used.

Savings “Totals”

While totals for the five and 10 year savings are provided by section and for the complete set of recommendations, there are two reasons they should not be viewed as representing total savings for The Budget Book.

First, as noted in the introduction, The Heritage Foundation would recommend that the savings realized in the Function 050 Defense section would stay within the Department of Defense to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

Second, the numbers cannot be deemed to represent the realized savings if every single recommendation were adopted because policy changes made in one program can impact spending levels in other programs.  Thus, the numbers in the table do not reflect any potential interactions between the various policy changes affecting spending or savings.


Heritage Recommendation:

Auction off the assets of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Not including potential revenue from auctioning assets, this proposal saves $3.6 billion over 10 years.


TNA can’t stop messing up, won’t stop wasting money to the tune of $3.6 billion.

The TVA has had 80 years of independence from the oversight, review, and budgetary control of a more traditional federal agency, as well as from the rigors of operating as a private shareholder-owned utility. This lack of effective oversight from either the government or the private sector has resulted in costly decisions, excessive expenses, high electricity rates, and growing liabilities for all U. S. taxpayers.

The TVA has had ample time to reduce debt, reduce operating costs, and reform and fully fund its pension fund. There is little reason to believe that any of these important reforms will be completed by the TVA—it is easier to ask Congress for another increase in the debt ceiling. The most effective way to restore efficiency to the TVA system is to sell its assets via a competitive auction and bring it under the rigors of market forces and public utility regulation.

TNA can’t stop messing up, won’t stop wasting money to the tune of $3.6 billion.

Contributing Expert

Nicolas (Nick) Loris, an economist, focuses on energy, environmental and regulatory issues as the Herbert and Joyce Morgan fellow at The Heritage Foundation.

See publications by Nicolas Loris

Nicolas (Nick) LorisHerbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow

Heritage Experts

Jack Spencer oversees Heritage Foundation research on a wide range of domestic economic issues as director of the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies. Those topics include federal spending, taxes, energy and environment, regulation and retirement savings.

See publications by Jack Spencer

Jack SpencerVice President for the Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity

Katie Tubb is a Research Associate and Coordinator in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies

See publications by Katie Tubb

Katie TubbResearch Associate and Coordinator

Additional Reading