Group wants probe of utility's jets, luxury helicopter

Associated Press |

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A clean-energy advocacy group wants an investigation after the Tennessee Valley Authority bought two corporate jets and a Mercedes-Benz helicopter.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy says the 2015 and 2017 model jets and 2013 model Style helicopter were worth $40 million new. The helicopter was used.

TVA deemed the equipment necessary to meet customers and pursue economic development.

Alliance executive director Stephen Smith says buying extravagant aircraft defies TVA's purpose to protect residential ratepayers. The group did not specify who should investigate, but called for oversight from TVA's inspector general and Congress.

TVA spokesman Jim Hopson says private aircraft are the only safe, timely option across TVA's 80,000-square-mile, seven-state service area, which largely lacks commercial flights.

Hopson says operating modern jets costs just 7 percent more than older turboprops.

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