President Donald Trump continued his crusade against the TVA, giving it his biggest exposure yet — a White House speech accepting his party’s nomination during the Republican National Convention.
Trump not only invited workers from the Knoxville-based Tennessee Valley Authority to be in the audience Thursday night, he asked them to stand.
“When I learned that the Tennessee Valley Authority laid off hundreds of American workers and forced them to train their lower-paid foreign replacements, I promptly removed the chairman of the board,” Trump said. “And now those talented American workers have been rehired and are back providing power to Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia,” he said to cheers.
“You went through a lot.”
For weeks, Trump has bashed the federal agency that supplies power throughout the Southeast over the CEO’s compensation. It started when he found out Chief Executive Officer Jeff Lyash was the country’s highest-paid federal employee and escalated when he heard the TVA’s plan to outsource about 120 information technology jobs.
More: TVA gives $200 million COVID-19 pandemic relief package to local power providers
The president signed an executive order forbidding federal agencies from outsourcing jobs overseas, and TVA leaders reversed course.
As he was signing the order, Trump fired two board members and pushed for the TVA board of directors to remove Lyash, saying he was grossly overpaid.
The president himself cannot remove Lyash.
At the start of TVA’s board meeting Thursday, interim board chairman John Ryder addressed Trump’s criticism of Lyash’s pay.
“It is important to highlight that questions about compensation do not reflect questions about Jeff Lyash’s performance,” Ryder said. “In his relatively short time at TVA, Jeff’s leadership has been instrumental in guiding the organization through very challenging circumstances and delivering performance improvements that we believe are in the best interest of the 10 million people TVA serves.”
At the board meeting, TVA announced a $200 million COVID-19 pandemic relief package for local power providers that includes a 2.5% discount on its base electric rates.
Local power providers will decide how to use the base rate credit, which could include lowering customer rates and limiting utility cutoffs for customers hurt by the ongoing pandemic.
TVA, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, supplies electricity to businesses and local power companies. About 10 million people rely on the agency across parts of seven Southeast states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.