Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kentucky Blue Bloods Take the Beach

Auditors question TVA shoreline deals with wealthy

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Wealthy and influential people seeking private lakeshore access to the Tennessee Valley Authority's 11,000 miles of Tennessee River system shoreline appeared to receive preferential treatment, according to an audit released Monday.

TVA Inspector General Richard Moore's 85-page report found no evidence that rules were deliberately broken, but said TVA managed the program "selectively and arbitrarily" often to the benefit of "the wealthy, the influential, or both."

Among those receiving approval for boat docks or waterfront access was U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., who until recently served on a House subcommittee with oversight of TVA, the nation's largest public utility.

The audit, pushed by publicity over Shuler's influence on a residential lake development near Knoxville in which he is an investor, focused on TVA's "maintain and grow" program under which it grants water-access rights to one piece of land in exchange for rights on another piece of land. The goal is to produce no net loss of public shoreline.

Moore worried the program, as it was run, may undermine TVA lakeshore management reforms adopted in 2006. The reforms for the first time set residential development limits on TVA lakes and rivers, ensuring the public could use at least 68 percent of its managed shoreline.

Others who were approved for private docks or water access were former TVA Chairman Bill Sansom of Knoxville and Charles Perry, the general manager of the Paris (Ky.) Board of Public Utilities — a TVA power distributor.


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