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President Donald Trump has fired the chairman of the largest federal planning agency in the U.S.—the Tennessee Valley Authority—saying the federal-owned utility hired foreign workers instead of U.S. citizens, the AP reported.
The President also threatened to oust members of the TVA's board if they continued to hire workers from abroad.
Besides the firing, Trump revisited an older problem he has with the corporation, which was formed after the Great Depression to boost the economy of the Tennessee Valley, which spans seven states. The region was one of the hardest hit by the Depression. The TVA is one of the largest electricity providers in the United States, providing a total of 35,000 megawatts of electricity to approximately ten million people.
President Trump has called on the TVA's board to replace its well-compensated chief executive and hire one who "puts the interests of Americans first."
In April this year, Trump threatened to cut the salary of TVA's current chief executive, Jeff Lyash, who according to Trump was making more money than appropriate.
The base salary of Jeff Lyash was last year $920,000, which compares with $400,000 for Trump himself. But that's not all. Lyash received a total of $8.16 million, most of it coming from performance-based bonuses and a $1.8-million one-time payment for Lyash's agreement to relocate from Canada to the United States.
"I don't know the gentleman, but he's got a heck of a job," Trump said, as quoted by the Chattanooga Times Free Press in April. "He gets paid a lot of money, which is an amazing thing."
A spokesman for Tennessee Valley Authority countered with the argument that unlike other federal companies, TVA does not receive taxpayer funds.
In 2017, two economic experts suggested that Trump might try to privatize the TVA, which "has been a thorn in the side of American conservatives since its inception." The thorn is clearly bothering the President four years on.
"The new CEO must be paid no more than $500,000 a year," Trump told media this week. "We want the TVA to take action on this immediately. ... Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: 'You're fired.'”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.