which provides power to nine million customers in the Southeast. A Fox
17 viewer contacted us with concerns about money wasted on some TVA
equipment that he said never worked. We turned up the heat on this one
and here's what we found.
(Former TVA worker scratching lottery ticket says:) "This is my problem.. these things."
This retired TVA employee plays the lottery,
(Retiree continues scratching ticket and says:) "If I hit this number on here, I'm going to holler."
He's trying to strike it rich. Some would say his former employer
already has. The Tennessee Valley Authority, owned by the U.S.
government spent millions --- one insider tells us $6 million on this at
its Cumberland City plant. A cooling system that never worked.
who didn't want us to use his last name, is a TVA customer and rate
payer, "They probably should have done more research on it to make sure.
That's a lot of money to spend and then turn around and it not work."
called the Varitech cooling system. TVA employee after employee all
told us off camera it was a waste of money. Employee off camera says,
"They would know more than me."
The nation's largest public power
company, purchased the 20 ton lemon as its called in the summer of
2008. Temps were soaring, no rain was falling and rolling blackouts were
threatened. TVA says it purchased the Varitech system as an emergency
solution. When it didn't work? TVA listed it on this government deals
auction site.... by some estimates for ONE SIXTH of what it paid.
says, "They're selling it for less. Nowhere near what they spent on
it? Again I hope we're not the one eating it. You know paying for it.
(Stacy Case/ reporter presses intercom button at TVA in Cumberland City. Beep, Beep, Beep)
We went searching for answers...
"This is Mike. How can I help you?
says, "Hi Mike. This is Stacy Case.. I'm with Fox 17 News. Wanted to
know if there's anybody there in your public affairs office who may be
able to answer some questions about the Varitech cooling system?"
Mike: "Um.. no we're not going to be able to do that."
Stacy: "Not going to be able to do that?"
Mike: "No thank you."
Case on camera at plant says, "Though TVA would not comment on camera,
they did issue a statement saying that equipment was used to cool water
coming in here to the plant. That statement in part reads, "TVA
operated the cooling equipment to address plant generation reductions
due to river temperatures for one summer. However, the equipment did not
achieve desired results to achieve more than temporary use. TVA and the
contract supplier reached a contract agreement in 2009 to limit project
Joel Thomas says as a retiree he read in the TVA
newsletter that the equipment didn't work. "It didn't say that much
about it just that it didn't work in TVA's system. Nobody knows and
ain't nobody going to tell." (snickers) TVA sure isn't. We asked
if they've had any luck recouping the expense and why they listed it
for so much less than it's worth on the auction website? We also asked
why more troubleshooting wasn't done before the purchase was made? Our
specific questions were not answered.
Not surprising, Businessinsider.com this year listed TVA as one of the top 17 big companies at risk for bankruptcy.
Wally says, "Somebody dropped the ball somewhere is all I can say."
at least $26 billion in debt and a request into Congress to borrow
more. The only other way TVA can stay afloat is to raise what you
pay to turn on the lights. Wally comments, "That's their mistake.
We asked the longtime TVA worker what he would do with $6 million?
Joel Thomas said, "I'd just take it and ride and ride and ride because I can't pay my way to heaven."
(Joel Thomas, TVA retiree continues scratching lottery ticket)
But on this day, it seems the money's somehow flowing more freely on the other side of the pond.
Joel Thomas says while scratching lottery ticket: "Well I just lost again. Time to quit."
Thomas knows HE can't spend what he DOESN'T have.
TVA did contact me late Friday saying the equipment had been sold. TVA
would not provide documentation or tell me how much money it recouped.
U.S. Senator Bob corker has been leading efforts to get TVA out of the
federal government's hands. Corker has even proposed having the region's
Governors oversee the agency. We'll keep you posted.
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