The Backbone of the Valley

The Backbone of the Valley

TVA’s large directly served customers—from steel mills to paper manufacturers to chemical companies—contribute jobs and stability to the Tennessee Valley. Here’s how TVA supports them.

Reliable power. Clean power. High-quality power. Large amounts of power. 24/7/365 power. Low-cost power.

These are the prerequisites for TVA’s 56 large directly served clients, which run the gamut from steel mills and chemicals manufacturers to military installations and national research facilities. And on each front, TVA delivers—so that its clients can provide not only top-notch products, but the kind of high-quality jobs that make the Tennessee Valley the best place in the nation to live, work and play.

“This mill couldn’t exist without TVA, and it never would have been built here in 1954 if it hadn’t been for the availability of TVA as a strong partner to help us save on energy costs and promote business development,” says Phil Carson, Technical Services and Quality Manager of paper manufacturer Resolute Forest Products in Calhoun, Tenn. “We’re providing jobs and living wages to a lot of employees and generations of employees. We have third-generation employees who work here. We have a lot of fathers and sons who work here. We provide a good wage and are one of the largest employers in the region.”

His thoughts are very much echoed by Mike Lee, Site Vice President for Nucor Steel in Trinity, Ala. “The relationship between TVA and Nucor is second to none,” he says.

Because of TVA’s low-cost, reliable power, he says, Nucor jobs have become an engine for revitalization in the community near the plant. “When our teammates acquire the average or $75,000 annually, that does have a significant ripple effect,” he explains. “For example, a teammate with that kind of compensation is able to buy automobiles, buy new homes, send his children to good schools and universities.”

In Calvert City, Ky., Mayor Lynn Jones—son of a former TVA employee—reflects on the meaning of TVA to his city. “Calvert City has had opportunity to provide jobs to many, many people over the years, and TVA made that happen—it didn’t just happen overnight for no reason,” he says. “TVA was a driving force. If TVA never existed; if Kentucky Dam had never been built and cheap power generated by the hydro units at the dam never happened, Calvert City would have remained a small, rural farming community. We wouldn’t have the nice schools and all the other amenities a high quality of life brings.”

Indeed, Calvert City has become a manufacturing hub, home to several chemical—chief among them Westlake Chemical. “TVA has come up with ways to work with us to keep their rates affordable and competitive with others around the nation, and it’s very important that we have that as part of our operation here at Calvert City,” says Westlake Plant Manager Bryan Fite. “Without affordable, reliable power, Westlake would not be here.”

It’s hard to imagine a world without these major manufacturers, and the life and livelihoods they bring to the Valley. John Gentry, Mayor of McMinn County, home to Resolute Forest Products, puts it this way: “Over $70 million just in property tax have been paid by that company into this county, and what would the condition of the roads and schools be like without them?” he asks. “I shudder to think what this community would have been like without Resolute. There’s a continuous positive effect that Resolute has had on the on the region, and TVA has always put us over the top.”