After quick ousting at Duke Energy, Bill Johnson named CEO of Tennessee Valley Authority

Published November 5 2012
Updated November 6 2012

The Tennessee Valley Authority on Monday named former Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson the new head of its $11 billion, federally owned electricity operation.

Johnson, 58, replaces Tom Kilgore, 64, the TVA's first president and CEO. Kilgore will remain in the position until Johnson takes over Jan. 1.

"We are very fortunate to have someone of Bill Johnson's caliber as TVA's next president and CEO," TVA board chairman Bill Sansom said in a news conference at its Knoxville headquarters. "Bill is a seasoned CEO with deep experience leading a company with a diverse energy portfolio — from coal and gas, to nuclear, hydro and renewables."

Johnson was set to lead the new Duke Energy after it merged with Progress Energy in July. But the new Duke board of directors fired Johnson after about 20 minutes in the position, later citing his handling of Progress' fleet of nuclear power plants.

In particular, the board noted the troubles at Progress' broken Crystal River nuclear plant, Johnson's lack of transparency concerning the plant's operation and his overall leadership style.

The 36-year-old Crystal River nuclear plant has sat idle for three years because of a botched maintenance and repair job and might never return to service. Some repair estimates top $3.5 billion.

Duke gave Johnson $44 million severance package. TVA will pay him $950,000 a year plus up to $3 million in other compensation.

TVA provides electricity for business customers and distribution utilities that serve 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states at prices below the national average.

The corporation also provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists utilities and state and local governments with economic development.

Ivan Penn can be reached at or (727) 892-2332.