TVA Executive Pay Has Soared Since Salary Cap Removed

Since Congress removed the pay cap for employees of the Tennessee Valley Authority seven years ago, the base salary for 155 of the utility’s top managers has risen above the $174,000 annual pay given members of Congress, according to the Chattanooga TFP.
TVA is shelling out nearly $30 million a year more for its top brass than it did before TVA’s board was restructured and the limit on TVA salaries was removed by Congress in 2004. Despite the extra cost, proponents of the change insist it has helped TVA attract and retain top managers and allowed the federal utility to operate more like a private business.
“For TVA to compete for the best talent with other utilities, it needs to pay competitive salaries and that just wasn’t possible in the past,” said Dr. Warren Neel, executive director of the Corporate Governance Center at the University of Tennessee, who has served on the boards of 15 publicly traded companies. “For the past decade, TVA has been set up and is operating more like a private company, and I think that leads to better performance.”
…U.S. Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., the dean of Tennessee’s congressional delegation, has opposed the higher pay for TVA’s top executives. Duncan said no federal employee needs to be paid more than the president’s $400,000-a-year salary.
Former TVA Chairman Craven Crowell, who was paid $145,100 in his final year in 2001, remains critical of the reforms.
“Simply put, this legislation was never carefully thought out and citizens of the valley were never given an adequate opportunity to have input,” Crowell said.
…In fiscal 2011, the total compensation for TVA’s top five officers ranged from $1.95 million for Chief Nuclear Officer Preston Swafford up to $3.95 million for Chief Executive Tom Kilgore, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Kilgore’s salary was nearly 10 times above President Barack Obama’s and nearly 23 times higher than salaries for senators and congressmen
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