TVA Burns Up Its Ethics

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Today's Tennessean was full of good stories and none better than Anne Paine's piece about how TVA awarded a contract to a company called Bechtel that basically hatched the idea for its own project. Bechel won a $1.1 billion contract to finish constructing a nuclear reactor north of Chattanooga after it completed a study for TVA recommending that the utility—surprise!—finish constructing the nuclear reactor north of Chattanooga. TVA officials shamelessly claimed the utility did nothing wrong in awarding the lucrative contract to Bechtel. Then, as if trying to appear as slippery as possible, TVA refused to turn over Bechtel's, um "study" to The Tennessean. Meanwhile, all but one of TVA's directors, who preside over the nation's largest public power provider, wouldn't so much as return Paine's calls to explain their actions. I guess talking to the press is beneath them. (Or Bob Tuke is serving as the TVA corporate counsel.) Anyhow, let's hope Paine and The Tennessean stay on this story. TVA shouldn't be allowed to get away with awarding billion-dollar contracts to companies with an epic conflict of interest. (An interesting side note: As Paine's story noted, Bechtel belongs to Transparency International-USA, an organization with the goal of increasing governmental accountability and curbing corruption. Here's an idea: Maybe Bechtel could conduct a "study" for the TVA on how to run an honest shop.)

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