Tennessee Valley Authority CEO Bill Johnson is retiring from the federal power agency after nearly six years in charge and plenty of accomplishments and controversy, including disputes over pay raises and bringing to fruition the nation’s first new nuclear power plant in three decades.
Johnson plans to depart the TVA in 2019. He joined in 2013, following a career as a federal appellate law clerk, an attorney and, eventually, CEO of Carolina Power & Light, which became Progress Energy and was bought by Duke Energy.
Under his tenure, the TVA reduced debt by $3.5 billion and made progress toward clean energy options, according to the agency release. A significant milestone was completion and commissioning of Watts Bar Nuclear Unit 2, the first new nuclear plant of the 21st century, in 2015.
Some critics pointed at Johnson’s $6.5 million compensation and his support for raises to high-level employees. Supporters, however, noted price reductions benefiting TVA customers and diversifying the agency’s power generation mix.
“Bill Johnson has done a terrific job. His strong leadership and deep industry expertise steered TVA on a course for long-term future success. He improved TVA’s financial health and operational performance, engaged TVA employees and established better relationships with our customers, elected officials, industry regulators and community leaders,” said TVA Board Chair Richard Howorth. “On behalf of the entire Board, I thank him for his dedicated service thus far and his willingness to continue serving until we identify the next leader for this important organization.”
Johnson once played football as an offensive lineman for Penn State, then he moved on to law school, legal firms and then the energy business.
“TVA has a direct, positive impact on the quality of life in the Tennessee Valley, and I have been privileged and honored to lead this organization and the great people who work here,” said Johnson. “Together we have continued to execute on TVA’s mission of providing low-cost and ever-cleaner energy, partnering to create jobs and bring capital investment to the region, and promoting stewardship of the resources of the Tennessee Valley. The individual who serves as the next CEO will quickly become committed and invested in serving the people of the region—as I have been. And they will continue to position TVA to serve the Valley for generations to come.”
The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for business customers and distribution utilities that serve nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states at prices below the national average. TVA, which receives no taxpayer money and makes no profits, also provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists utilities and state and local governments with economic development.
TVA has 29 hydroelectric dams and one pumped storage system throughout the Tennessee River system, generating close to 14 million MWh annually, according to reports.