Significant changes occurred in the economy of the Tennessee Valley and the nation during this period, prompted by an international oil embargo in 1973 and accelerating fuel costs later in the decade. The average cost of electricity in the Tennessee Valley increased fivefold from the early 1970s to the early 1980s. With energy demand dropping and construction costs rising, TVA first deferred and then canceled several nuclear units, as did other utilities around the nation.
To become more competitive, TVA began improving efficiency and productivity while cutting costs. By the late 1980s, there was a shift within TVA toward a leaner, more corporate environment. Chairman Marvin Runyon, former executive at Ford and Nissan, put a stop to the rise in power rates and paved the way for a period of rate stability that would last for the next decade.
Energy conservation became an economic necessity for homeowners and businesses alike, and TVA became a national leader in promoting energy conservation.
Tellico Dam was finished in 1979, providing many recreation opportunities for the people of the Valley and boosting the economy of the region.