The TVA Act

TVA was created in 1933, one of the “alphabet soup” projects championed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a way to get a flagging country back on its feet during the Great Depression.

The corporation’s purpose was succinctly expressed in the preamble to the Tennessee Valley Authority Act:

“To improve the navigability and to provide for the flood control of the Tennessee River; to provide for reforestation and the proper use of marginal lands in the Tennessee Valley; to provide for the agricultural and industrial development of said valley; to provide for the national defense by the creation of a corporation for the operation of Government properties at and near Muscle Shoals in the State of Alabama, and for other purposes.”

The forward-thinking act invested TVA with the “power to acquire real estate for the construction of dams, reservoirs, transmission lines, power houses, and other structures, and navigation projects at any point along the Tennessee River, or any of its tributaries.”

It was through this power that TVA designed and executed the Unified Development of the Tennessee River plan, which called for the building of dams for flood control, navigation and electrification of the Valley.

The act also called upon TVA to work with the region’s farmers, developing and distributing powerful fertilizers that would restore the region’s farmlands, which had been decimated by flooding.

Care was taken in the act to ensure that power produced by TVA would be carefully distributed throughout the Valley to modernize rural communities and to encourage economic development—and that rates would always remain as low as feasible. Low rates and access for all remain a priority.

Indeed, the act echoes throughout TVA’s mission today of caring for the environment, encouraging economic development and producing affordable, reliable power.

The TVA Act is living history. Read it for yourself and see why.

The Unified Development of the Tennessee River plan stressed TVA was to provide flood control, navigation and electricity for the region. TVAs dams are tangible evidence of its primary mission: improving life in the Tennessee Valley. We’re celebrating the 80th anniversary of the plan with an in-depth look at 32 dams it comprises.