A clean air group said it learned that TVA spent an estimated $40 million worth of luxury jets and a specialized Mercedes Benz helicopter, formerly used by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
According to the FAA registry, executives at TVA have authorized the purchase of these jets and helicopter in the last 2.5 years, using ratepayer money to finance these purchases, The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy said.
The group said the aircraft includes "two Cessna Citation Excel jets with the N-Numbers (also know as tail numbers visible on the planes) N561PG and N560GJ. These are sweet rides costing about $13 million each and have operational costs of about $1,800-$2,000 an hour. The TVA millionaire jet setters didn’t just stop at fancy jets, they also decided there was a need for a luxury helicopter, and boy did Johnson score a nice one. The Mercedes Benz style EC145 helicopter N-number N482AE will get you to the office in real style. To be clear, several of TVA’s helicopters appear to be necessary for transmission work and these can be found on this FAA list, but the approximately $7 million luxury helicopter with the $1.5 million “Mercedes Benz style” interior which includes fine hard wood paneling is not likely to be seen inspecting transmission lines any time soon. A former TVA employee was 'shocked' when he learned about the hardwood floors in the helicopter."
Elder Jimmie Garland, NCAA vice president, said, “The recent findings, revealing the reckless expenditures made by TVA and its staff, is evidence of the need for independent oversight of TVA to assure that Tennessee families are not being unfairly tasked by having them shoulder the burden of poor decision making by TVA and the local power companies.
“We call upon leaders at the federal, state, and local levels to enact legislation designed to reverse the current path TVA has chartered that is not in keeping with the original intent of the organization charter.”
Debbie Dooley, Tea Party co-founder and president of Conservatives for Energy Freedom, said, “It is time we drained the swamp at the top of TVA, pure and simple. “These purchases are further evidence that the self-regulated TVA monopoly is out of control, and CEO Bill Johnson needs to be replaced.”
Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said, “We are calling for a full investigation into these excessive purchases which have clearly taken place under Bill Johnson’s watch.
“Buying extravagant jets and helicopters is a hijacking of the TVA act, whose stated purpose is to protect the residential customers, not buy flashy toys for millionaire executives or cut backroom deals with private industry. This is the very definition of corruption of the TVA mission and is 'tone deaf' to the needs of our region when places like Memphis have the highest energy burdens of any city in the country.“
The full blog can be read here. Photos and videos of the jets and Mercedes Benz edition helicopter can be accessed here. Southern Alliance for Clean Energy's Freedom of Information Act request can be found here.