The federally-owned Tennessee Valley Authority has a number of advantages private utilities don’t, such as not being liable for local, state, or federal taxes.

And for the CEO, working for the government utility is a lucrative gig, indeed. According to Open the Books director Adam Andrzejewski, the TVA paid CEO Jeffrey Lyash “$15.5 million in pay, perquisites, and retirement benefits over the last two years.”

In April 2019, the TVA hired Lyash and agreed to pay him $8.2 million. The package included a $445,846 salary; a $380,00 bonus; $480,085 in recruitment/relocation incentives; 401K retirement contributions; and millions in “other” compensation and deferred pension earnings.

Lyash moved to East Tennessee from Canada to take the position.

Then, in 2020, Lyash received $7.3 million in compensation. The CEO received a $1.1 million salary; a $2.4 million “annual performance incentive;” and the first of his three equal long-term retention award incentive tranches of $338,000. Lyash also received $1.092 million in “other compensation,” and the second tranche of his “recruitment/relocation incentive award.”

For its part, the TVA says Lyash’s pay and benefits are allowed by law:

“The TVA Act – approved by the U.S. Congress – provides direction to the TVA Board of Directors regarding compensation. A key tenet of the TVA Act states that compensation must be market-based and competitive. The TVA Board follows that requirement when establishing CEO compensation.”

If the TVA wants to pay its CEO market rates, great. Then it should become a fully-private company subject to the same rules, regulations, tax laws, and competitive pressures as its competitors.