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Electric Worlds / Mondes électriques

Creations, Circulations, Tensions, Transitions (19th–21st C.)


Edited By Alain Beltran, Léonard Laborie, Pierre Lanthier and Stéphanie Le Gallic

What interpretation(s) do today’s historians make of electrification? Electrification is a process which began almost a hundred and fifty years ago but which more than one billion men and women still do not have access to. This book displays the social diversity of the electric worlds and of the approaches to their history. It updates the historical knowledge and shows the renewal of the historiography in both its themes and its approaches. Four questions about the passage to the electrical age are raised: which innovations or combination of innovations made this passage a reality? According to which networks and appropriation? Evolving thanks to which tensions and alliances? And resulting in which transition and accumulation?

Quel(s) regard(s) les historiens d’aujourd’hui portent-ils sur l’électrification, processus engagé il y a près de cent cinquante ans mais auquel plus d’un milliard d’hommes et de femmes restent encore étrangers ? Le présent volume rend compte de la diversité des mondes sociaux électriques et des manières d’enquêter sur leur histoire. Il actualise les connaissances et témoigne du renouvellement de l’historiographie, dans ses objets et ses approches. Quatre points d’interrogation sur le basculement des sociétés dans l’âge électrique jalonnent le volume : moyennant quelles créations ou combinaisons créatrices ? En vertu de quelles circulations et appropriations ? Selon quelles tensions et alliances ? Et produisant quelles transitions et accumulations ?

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Public Dams, Private Power. Electric Energy and Political Economy in the Post-Second World War US South

← 414 | 415 →

Public Dams, Private Power

Electric Energy and Political Economy in the Post-Second World War US South

Casey P. CATER*


In the decade following the Second World War, public and private power interests struggled over the electric energy generated at the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Clarks Hill dam that straddled the Georgia-South Carolina border on the Savannah River. Though private utilities and the Corps originally clashed over the construction of the dam, the enduring and central issue in the fight concerned whether the power companies or the Department of the Interior (DOI) would control the transmission of Clarks Hill’s electricity to rural electric cooperatives. For both sides, the identity of this power would inform the identity of a still heavily agricultural but swiftly industrializing region. In the context of the emerging Cold War – and because Clarks Hill became a national test-case for DOI power-transmission policy – this issue also had nationwide implications regarding federally produced power (including the future of the Tennessee Valley Authority), natural resource policy, and models for economic growth. If the federal government constructed its own power lines, private utilities argued, heavy-handed control over southern land- and waterscapes would soon follow. As such the South would depart from American reverence for free enterprise, leading the way to a socialized grid and nation. Public-power advocates claimed in contrast that falling water’s energy was a God-given tool to be enjoyed equitably by all. If private utilities gained control over Clarks Hill’s electricity, it would lose its identity as a publically-owned resource and serve only to enrich an elite few. In this case Dixie would slip back into its impoverished, pre-modern state and would be unable to join the nation in its postwar quest for unending economic growth and social progress. This paper explores how public and private forces made competing claims on a river’s ← 415 | 416 → kinetic energy and, in the process, contributed to a region dominated by coal-fired power production. It furthermore discusses the ways that the manipulation of and control over nature and energy had repercussions for state power and national identity in the postwar United States.

Keywords: Clarks Hill, Georgia Power Company, Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, Southeastern Power Administration, hydroelectricity.


In June 1953, John Chambless, a representative of the Georgia Electric Membership Corporation (GEMC), condemned the recently announced plans of the Atlanta-based Georgia Power Company in a letter to officials at the US Department of the Interior (DOI).1 According to Chambless, Georgia Power had proposed a plutocratic scheme for seizing and reselling all of the electricity generated at the US Army Corps of Engineers’ newly completed Clarks Hill dam and reservoir (also referred to as Lake J. Strom Thurmond) on the Savannah River. Chambless believed that if DOI sided with Georgia Power – which already controlled the largest power market in the South – the company’s executives, “in their selfishness and greed, would…monopolize the Great Hydro Projects developed and built with public funds.” For GEMC’s forty-two rural electric cooperatives, the dam’s energy must remain part of the ongoing legacy of the New Deal’s manipulation and management of the southern waterscape in the service of equitably distributing natural wealth to all. For Chambless, DOI must ensure that GEMC’s members received Clarks Hill’s hydropower, which “should belong to the people and not a select few.”2

Georgia Power executives foresaw a dim future for Clarks Hill as well. While Georgia Power’s flamboyant president, Harllee Branch, could casually reject Chambless’s exclusive claims to Clarks Hill as spurious at best, he also worried that GEMC’s plans portended much graver consequences for the postwar United States. Branch, who served ← 416 | 417 → as Georgia Power’s president from 1951 to 1958, feared that GEMC’s vision contributed to a thinly-veiled agenda “of nationalization of…the electric power industry.”3 Chambless’s stance, he charged, was part of a larger conspiracy to create a competing public power network, an insidious “socialistic endeavor…of long standing” that went well “beyond anything the New Dealers and Fair Dealers ever conjured up.”4 If GEMC prevailed at Clarks Hill, Branch feared, the result would be not only a long “step toward the creation of a federal power empire,” but a step toward the destruction of American free enterprise as well.5

For both Chambless and Branch, the stakes at Clarks Hill were extraordinarily high, signifying much more than the ownership of a dam’s electric power. The fate of postwar US political economy was at risk. Yet despite GEMC’s and Georgia Power’s heightened rhetoric about the New Deal’s – and indeed America’s – future hanging in the balance at Clarks Hill, the affair on the Savannah River was not the only such fight in the post-Second World War United States.6 Historian Karl Brooks has told a similar story in which public and private interests collided in the early postwar years over plans to construct a federal dam on the Idaho-Oregon border’s Snake River. For Brooks, the Hells Canyon High Dam controversy forced citizens to choose between public power and private dams. Ultimately, they favored private dams and thus rejected “ambitious federal river-basin planning…advanced a new and different definition of the ‘public interest,’” and ultimately “unplugged the New Deal” in the US Northwest. Yet the ten-year Hells Canyon drama had significance far beyond the construction of a high dam. Hells Canyon, Brooks writes, “transcends hydroelectric history” and offers larger lessons about the “turbulent decade, between 1946 and 1956, linking victory abroad [in the Cold War] to new struggles at home about the meaning of citizenship in a democracy and the place of nature in our national culture.”7 ← 417 | 418 →

Figure 1. Southeastern Power Administration Marketing Territory, 2007


Credit: US Department of Energy. ← 418 | 419 →

Although historians have essentially sidelined the entirety of the South’s electrical history outside of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the decade-long political brawl at Clarks Hill deserves attention because it demonstrates that control over nature and power proved critical to the construction of the postwar South.8 The fight over this little-known place assumed a central position in regional and national questions of nature, energy, the fate of the New Deal, and the type of society southerners desired for the postwar era. But there were critical differences between the fight on the Snake River and that on the Savannah. What southerners got at Clarks Hill, and consequently across the region, was the reverse of the outcome at Hells Canyon: public dams but private power. Yet that power was not long to remain hydroelectricity. Georgia Power’s goal, as voiced by Branch in 1953, was not so much to gain direct access to Clarks Hill’s power, but to use its exclusive ownership of transmission lines and its new-found dependence on coal to absorb public waterpower into its system. Georgia Power ultimately found success, which had wide ranging implications for postwar American political economy. Signaling much more than just the decision to transition to a better fuel source, the company’s shift to coal effectively dismantled the New Deal’s vision of a socially leveling public power complex and reaffirmed a political economy based in state-sanctioned private monopoly control over capital, nature, and power.

In what follows, this piece offers an account of the battle for Clarks Hill. It begins with a discussion of the Georgia Power Company’s history as an explicitly and nearly exclusively hydropower utility and of the confluence of forces that began to push the company toward coal. The chapter then turns to the Clarks Hill fight, a full understanding of which requires a brief consideration of the early postwar context in which that struggle took place. It concludes with an explanation of the settlement at Clarks Hill and the way Georgia Power, and by extension private utilities across the entire South, used coal to stop the extension of what it perceived as a pernicious political ideology anchored in the region’s rivers.

It was no small matter for Georgia Power to abandon hydroelectricity during the Clarks Hill affair; indeed, Georgia Power had helped construct a southern political economy based on legally-protected monopolistic capitalism and unquestioned control over the primary fuel source for electric power in the region. But a convergence of events over more ← 419 | 420 → than two decades, which finally culminated in the battle for Clarks Hill, pushed the company toward coal as the near-exclusive fuel for its power production in the early postwar years.

Timeline of Georgia Power Company-Clarks Hill History

1891:Georgia Electric Light Company (Georgia Power’s predecessor) established
1904:Morgan Falls Dam at Bull Sluice completed (first dam to serve Atlanta)
1928:Federal license and land at Clarks Hill secured by Georgia Power
1932:Georgia Power surrendered federal license for Clarks Hill
1933:Tennessee Valley Authority established
1935:Rural Electrification Administration established
1940:Georgia Electric Membership Corporation established
1944:Flood Control Act (with funding for Clarks Hill) passed by Congress
1950:Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA) established
1952:Clarks Hill Dam completed by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
1956:Georgia Power-SEPA contract for Clarks Hill’s power signed.

Essentially from its founding in 1891, Georgia Power, along with utilities in neighboring states, had devoted nearly all of its financial capital to and produced the vast majority of its current at dams. By the late 1920s, the company owned hydroelectric dams on five separate rivers in the state and falling water accounted for over 90 percent of its production. The firm’s few coal-based generating stations, the largest one of which was completed in 1930, operated well below capacity and furnished only reserve power in periods of peak electrical demand. As late as 1939, water still fueled nearly 80 percent of Georgia Power’s electrical output.9

Georgia Power invested the entirety of its cultural capital in and derived its corporate identity from hydroelectricity as well. A 1923 pamphlet stated that the company’s very reason for existence was to convert “raindrops into kilowatt hours” so Dixie – a commonly used nickname for the US South dating back to the early nineteenth century – could enjoy widespread prosperity based in industrial production.10 Shortly before his ← 420 | 421 → death in 1939, Georgia Power founder and long-time chairman Henry M. Atkinson insisted that his epitaph reflect this orientation. His tombstone should read, he requested, “He put to work for Georgia the mountain rivers that had for centuries been running to waste.”11

Georgia Power’s faith in hydroelectricity proved unflappable even as the system faced major problems in the interwar years. The early 1920s saw the rise of a vibrant municipal ownership movement that sought not only to wrest control of electrical distribution in urban centers but, more alarmingly for Georgia Power, to seize the state’s rivers in order to manage electrical generation as well.12 While the municipal crusade attacked private utility ownership, a series of severe droughts assaulted Georgia Power’s fuel supply. In 1920-21, 1925, and 1927, extremely low amounts of rainfall caused rivers to run nearly dry and threatened to cripple electrical production in Georgia as well as in North and South Carolina.13 Thanks to a business-friendly legislature, capital injections from multinational utilities holding companies, transmission interconnections with neighboring utilities, and the eventual return of adequate levels of rainfall, Georgia Power survived the threats of the 1920s and in fact looked to expand its hydroelectric infrastructure as a new decade approached. By the end of the 1920s, Georgia Power had purchased tens of thousands of acres of riverfront property on sites throughout the state – including land at a site on the Georgia-South Carolina border (formed by the Savannah River) called Clarks Hill – where it intended to build massive reservoirs, dams, and powerhouses.14

The financial catastrophe of 1929 and the subsequent depression clogged global capital pipelines, preventing Georgia Power and other southern utilities from constructing any new generating stations in the 1930s; what was more, a lack of funding forced Georgia Power in 1932 to surrender its federal license to build hydropower facilities at Clarks Hill.15 But the Great Depression affected southern utilities in areas other than finance. It helped the Democrats trounce the Republicans, paving the way for the implementation of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, a signature element of which was TVA. Although New Dealers pitched TVA as a regional planning agency based in 1920s “New Conservationist” ideas and public power advocacy, southern utility executives saw it as a ← 421 | 422 → socialist-inspired federal utility that would immediately overtake power companies in the Tennessee Valley and would eventually compete with and ultimately commandeer the properties of private energy firms across the South.16 Federal involvement in hydropower production represented a direct assault on the southern political economy of state-sanctioned monopoly capitalism that corporations like Georgia Power had worked to build over the preceding four decades.

Yet, like drought and municipal ownership agitation, TVA’s invasion of Dixie’s rivers did not cause southern utilities to hastily abandon hydroelectricity. They fought TVA in courts, legislatures, and board rooms, trying to limit the scope of the new federal corporation before its plans could be fully implemented. In addition, as plentiful rainfall loosened drought’s chokehold on the South for most of the 1930s, Georgia Power and other southern utilities held firm to their control over rivers and power, continuing to produce strong majorities of their output in hydropower stations and even renewing their hopes for constructing new dams at places such as Clarks Hill.17

Conditions in the early 1940s radically altered the situation for southern utilities. The exigencies of wartime production and the return of drought threatened to halt southern electrical generation. Doing their part to contribute to the “Arsenal of Democracy,” southern utilities produced record amounts of electricity to stoke industrial production for the Allied war effort.18 That demand alone strained their systems. The onset of another drought, the worst since Georgia began keeping official scientific records in 1893, threatened to completely cripple their productive capacity. Georgia Power officials estimated that by May 1941, rainfall had reached a ten-inch deficit, their water storage networks as a whole had seen a 75 percent shortfall, and their largest reservoir had fallen to a stunning 92 percent below maximum capacity.19

Power company managers had serious doubts about their ability to continue furnishing energy for the Allied war effort or even for everyday ← 422 | 423 → life. Beginning in May 1941, Georgia Power joined with utilities across the South and, out of “patriotic necessity,” collaborated with TVA to “appeal to the public to join immediately in a voluntary campaign of economy in the use of electricity.”20 Despite such efforts, reservoirs still held far too little water by autumn’s beginning. Headlines warned of a coming “BLACKOUT” and grave language informed readers that “Power Shortage in Southeast [is] Critical.” For the US government, calls for voluntary power conservation proved inadequate. Thus in October 1941, as Georgia Power reservoirs plummeted to only 15 percent of maximum capacity, the US Office of Production Management (OPM) issued mandatory curtailment orders that prohibited all non-defense related industrial and commercial electrical consumption and required all users to reduce their power usage by nearly one-third. A November 1941 public announcement likely included no exaggeration when it claimed that “unless the withdrawal of water from the reservoirs is stopped, the whole power supply of this area will be endangered…The situation is worse than it was at any time” in the state’s history.21

Fortunately, heavy showers fell in the last two months of 1941, restoring Georgia Power’s reservoirs to adequate levels of storage. As a result, OPM lifted its mandatory power conservation measures in January 1942.22 But the damage to hydroelectricity’s reputation had been done – at least for the remained of the war – and the potential danger in continuing to rely on waterpower only grew worse after Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor. In the words of a late-December 1941 editorial, the “recent shortage of power in the southeast, due to low water behind the dams, could have reached a critical stage – a disastrous stage.” If the United States were to help defeat the Axis, the South had to chart a new course because “the genius of man or the power of a government has never broken a drouth.” The South must lean on coal for its energy needs because steam-powered plants were cheaper and more efficient than hydroelectric stations and the region’s “inexhaustible deposits of coal…can always be mined.”23

Taking heed of such advice and of the situation at hand, power companies used coal to power the South through the war. Whereas hydropower ← 423 | 424 → accounted for some four-fifths of Georgia Power’s electrical output in 1939, the balance of power abruptly shifted to coal-based electricity by the end of 1941. Hurriedly bringing two new units online in the summer of 1941, Georgia Power’s coal-fired generation ballooned to 53 percent of its total output by the end of the year. Even as drought subsided by the beginning of 1942, coal’s importance only grew throughout the war years. By 1944, coal-fired generation in Georgia increased to 62 percent of total kilowatt-hour production. Utilities across the South experienced similar shifts.24

Drought and war pushed the Georgia Power Company to stray from its longtime marriage to hydroelectricity. The company’s affair with coal, though, was not without its own problems. A “coal shortage crisis” in the final year of the war prompted the US War Production Board to mandate nationwide power curtailments.25 Though heavy industrial electrical usage shrank as the war came to an end, which encouraged Americans to hope for a speedy reconversion to peacetime life, 1946 brought a new spike in electrical demand and with it the reemergence of power shortages. Through the end of the decade, electricity shortfalls tormented utilities and shutdown electrical production across the United States.26 Electricity shortages, one observer noted, hurled his city back into the pre-modernity of “some darker century.”27

The troubling electrical situation had implications far beyond the inconvenience of dark city streets. Energy famine threatened the economic health of the postwar United States. Power shortages forced many factories to operate at less than full capacity – or even in some cases to cease operations – resulting in multiple manufacturing shortfalls and tens of thousands of layoffs.28 Americans feared that obstacles to industrial production and full employment would forestall the realization of the ← 424 | 425 → long-promised postwar consumer cornucopia. Yet, what was more, they also feared that factory shutdowns and job losses might invite the return of the Great Depression.29 Reddy Kilowatt, the US electric industry’s cartoon character spokesman created by Alabama Power executive Ashton Collins in 1926, approached the situation in a light-hearted manner, lamenting that the interconnected problems of “coal shortage, …factory shutdowns, [and] material shortages” had him singing the “Reconversion Blues.”30 In a much more sober tone, Fortune reported just after the war that much of America was “depression conscious [and] worried sick about post-war joblessness.”31 To do its part to answer the challenges of postwar power shortage and economic depression, the Georgia Power Company, which clearly could not yet rely solely on coal, looked once again to consolidate its control over the water and expand its hydroelectric portfolio at sites on several rivers in the state, most notably at Clarks Hill on the Savannah River.

In October 1946, Preston Arkwright, who had served as Georgia Power president since 1902, appeared at a Federal Power Commission (FPC) hearing to make his case for a new license to develop Clarks Hill. Although Georgia Power had forfeited its original license for Clarks Hill in 1932 (though it had never sold its land) and supported the US Army Corps of Engineers’ plans in 1935-36 to construct facilities there, circumstances had changed. Arkwright assured the commissioners that, since that the war had concluded and his utility now had greater access to capital, the company could proceed with the project and reclaim its status as a hydropower utility. In fact, Georgia Power and its neighboring utilities had never really wanted to turn to coal; the company temporarily transitioned to steam power because the exigencies of war and drought demanded that “we had to have [increased coal-fired capacity] in a hurry.” Now, Georgia and South Carolina urgently needed to tap the Savannah River’s energy because, according to Arkwright, “there is a greater demand for electric power at the present time than there has ever been, ← 425 | 426 → and from our studies of the question that demand is going to keep up and grow very considerably.” But Arkwright insisted that private enterprise must build the reservoir, dam, and powerhouse. Government ownership at Clarks Hill would result in crippling inefficiencies that would exacerbate fragile postwar energy circumstances. Moreover, it would also signal the revival of the New Deal’s confiscation of private property and, ultimately, in “the destruction of this Company’s business.”32 Harllee Branch, serving at the time as Georgia Power’s general counsel, made much the same point in trying to convince Congressman James Davis to use his influence in the FPC case. “Georgia and South Carolina need the power now,” Branch fumed, and the federal government’s usurpation of his client’s right to develop its “own lands” at Clarks Hill would “bar the largest single investment of private funds ever sought to be made in the states of Georgia and South Carolina.” A public power triumph at Clarks Hill would do irreparable harm to American capitalism; in short, it would be “absurd and un-American.”33 For Arkwright, Branch, and the Georgia Power Company, if their version of free enterprise were to survive in the postwar South, the private realm must exercise control over the region’s rivers.

Even as the end of the war had changed the circumstances for private utilities, supporters of the New Deal’s mission to improve the South through the manipulation of watersheds – which included virtually every member of both Georgia and South Carolina’s congressional delegations – stood fast. Despite Arkwright’s effort, FPC rejected Georgia Power’s pitch and confirmed that the Army Engineers would develop Clarks Hill. Although Georgia Power protested FPC’s decision, company managers quickly regrouped and devised a new strategy that reflected the reality they now faced. Instead of clamoring for exclusive possession of the land and water at Clarks Hill, Georgia Power executives worked to claim ownership of only the Savannah River’s energy.

In the spring of 1947, George Dondero, a rabidly anti-New Deal Republican from Michigan now working closely with the Georgia Power Company, submitted a bill to the US House of Representatives that called for dividing the water’s functions at Clarks Hill. In this scheme, which drew from Arkwright’s pitch to FPC, the Army Corps of Engineers would build and maintain the reservoir and dam and would thereafter oversee the facilities’ flood control and navigation functions, but the government ← 426 | 427 → would have no link to the production or transmission of Clarks Hill’s energy. The bill characterized electricity as an “incidental” byproduct of the federal dam and thus directed FPC to grant Georgia Power a new license that would entitle the company to complete and own all of the electric machinery at Clarks Hill. What was more, the Corps would have no authority to construct power lines or transmit electricity from the Savannah River. The proposed legislation left that responsibility to private energy corporations.34 Dondero’s effort on behalf of private utilities in Georgia bore no legislative fruit. Not only would the Army Engineers build the reservoir and dam, they would construct the powerhouse and would oversee the production of electricity at Clarks Hill.

Although it met with failure in Congress, Dondero’s proposal, perhaps paradoxically, strongly suggested to southern power companies and their allies that they had at best an uncertain future in hydroelectricity. Even worse, it symbolized the rapid ascent of socialism in the postwar United States and the possible end of private capital’s controlling hand in the region’s political economy. For Dondero, government ambitions at sites such as Clarks Hill were part of the “socialistic trends of the New Deal” conjured up by a cabal of “socialists at heart” who had totalitarian designs for the United States35 Many Georgians shared those concerns and feared that the federal government was crowding private enterprise out of Georgia’s rivers and the power business. One Atlanta citizen fretted over the “increasing tendency” toward “public ownership of industry” in the postwar United States. Though she granted that the Army Engineers should manage flood control and navigation, she insisted that “electric power production” must “remain for private enterprise.”36 Another Atlantan foresaw nothing short of an apocalyptic fate resulting from “public power at Clark’s Hill.” The federal government’s completion of the project would not only harm the Georgia Power Company, she wrote to her Congressman, but it would further encourage “the Socialistic element in our country which is trying to Communize the United States by taking over, first the public utility business, then ultimately the railroads, coal, oil, lumber, and finally land.”37 Such grim predictions concerning Clarks Hill in particular and the postwar United States in general did not emerge solely in response to FPC’s decision or Dondero’s ← 427 | 428 → legislative failure. Georgia Power’s efforts to regain federal permission to exercise control over the Savannah River’s energy, and the state’s economic future, took place as a wave of public power rose across the United States in the late 1940s.

As Georgia Power’s sense of urgency concerning Clarks Hill in 1946-47 suggested, private utilities were not alone in crafting plans to meet the challenges of postwar economic conditions by quickly developing reservoirs and dams on the South’s waterways. In response to widely shared fears of power shortage and the Great Depression’s return, public power liberals pressed for an aggressive expansion of federal river conservation and hydroelectric projects not just in Dixie, but across the United States. Spurred on by President Truman’s exhortation to “apply the lessons of our Tennessee Valley experience to our other great river basins,” public power interests lobbied for new valley authorities based on the TVA model.38 Yet even more ominously for private utilities, public power advocates worked to expand the role of DOI in both constructing more federal electrical infrastructure and potentially building an integrated nationwide electrical network anchored in the country’s rivers. Because the contest over Clarks Hill took place against the backdrop of increasing federal hydropower development, it is necessary to briefly discuss public power’s expansion, especially that of DOI, in years immediately following the Second World War.

Although many valley authority proposals failed in Congress in the late 1930s and in the war years, the potentially dire economic situation of the early postwar moment compelled public power advocates to press for the creation of more federal regional planning corporations similar to TVA.39 In fact in the early postwar years, Congress had as many as ten TVA-style proposals in its hands at any given time.40 The Deep South was not exempt from this trend; utilities in Georgia and South Carolina had to confront a potential valley authority head on. Immediately following the war, members of Congress from Georgia and South Carolina ← 428 | 429 → collaborated on a proposal for a TVA-style regional development agency in the Savannah River Valley based at Clarks Hill. According to the bill, which enjoyed strong support as a bold attempt to bring comprehensive conservation measures and broad social improvement to postwar Georgia and South Carolina, the Savannah Valley Authority (SVA) would be an exercise in regional planning in a 10,000 square-mile area in the Savannah River basin.41 Putting a fine point on the matter, Congressman Carl Vinson plainly stated in 1948 that the plan for Clarks Hill “means a little TVA for Georgia.”42 Yet much of the publicity surrounding the “little TVA,” like that accompanying the original TVA, emphasized that the primary purpose of the SVA would be the “production of electricity” and, moreover, that the SVA would have the power to “acquire existing electric facilities in order to supply farms and small villages with electric power.”43 In the end, the Savannah River’s own “little TVA” anchored at Clarks Hill suffered the same fate as every other regional planning scheme in the early postwar years. Yet the continued push for new TVAs demonstrated to private utilities in the South that reports of the regional development idea’s death had been greatly exaggerated.

Even if no independent TVA-style agencies were likely to emerge in the postwar era, the belief in comprehensive development based in water conservation did not perish. In fact, the Department of the Interior proved to be an even greater threat to private power in the South. Under the leadership of Harold Ickes, who headed DOI from 1933 to 1946, Interior dramatically increased in size and significance as a hydropower producer, especially with its Bureau of Reclamation dams in the US West.44 More troubling for private utilities, DOI expanded its reach through the establishment of electrical transmission agencies such as the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) in the Northwest in 1937 and the Southwestern Power Administration (SPA) in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas in 1943. Originally, both BPA and SPA transmitted power from a very few, specifically identified public dams.45 The scope of BPA and SPA, however, grew far greater during the war years; by 1945, BPA became the agency responsible for arranging the transport of all federal power in the ← 429 | 430 → Northwest and SPA assumed transmission duties for all public dams in Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.46

The legal mechanism behind the rapid enlargement of DOI’s electrical transmission responsibilities was the Flood Control Act of 1944. The significance of this legislation can hardly be overstated not just for BPA’s and SPA’s growth, but for postwar public power in a larger sense. Because it explicitly granted DOI the exclusive authority to transmit electricity from federal dams to rural electric cooperatives and other public bodies (a provision that Dondero’s 1947 bill sought to undermine), the 1944 Flood Control Act had the potential to stitch together the patchwork nature of public power into coherent a nationwide web. The law could firmly link the functions of the various DOI agencies to those of the primary postwar dam building institution, the Army Engineers, and to federally-funded electric cooperatives well beyond the boundaries of single river valleys.47

According to historian Christopher Manganiello, the 1944 Flood Control Act, at least for Congress and the Army Engineers, functioned to water down TVA-style regional planning for the postwar era. Instead, it created a “techno-selective river planning model” that encouraged “pork-barrel projects” but included few of the New Deal’s ambitions for broad social improvement.48 Yet DOI’s postwar blueprint, which leveled strong criticism of the limited valley authority model, went well beyond building constituent-pleasing dams and shipping electricity from federal power projects to cooperatives and public bodies (also known as “preference customers,” because such institutions had top priority for federally generated electric power). Instead, DOI sought to expand and improve upon the TVA idea, aiming to implement the New Deal’s goals of improving people’s lives across the nation through the equitable distribution of natural resources.

Ickes articulated this position with an official “power-policy memorandum” in 1946 meant to guide DOI’s nationwide expansion during the process of reconversion.49 Even before the end of hostilities, he announced that DOI would construct for postwar America a “new empire” in the West and “Second Empire” in the South based on the “absolutely essential” conservation of water. Though his empires would center on a massive build-up of federal hydropower capacity, Ickes envisioned soil conservation, swamp drainage, reforestation, irrigation, and navigation ← 430 | 431 → improvements as critical elements of his plan for lasting prosperity. DOI-led regional development efforts would enable social and economic progress for millions through the establishment of “thousands of rich farms” and prolific factories electrified by public power.50 Just prior to the Nazis’ defeat, the Secretary of the Interior pushed his imperial appeal even further, revealing plans for an “ocean-to-ocean power project” that would far surpass what any isolated regional development agency could accomplish. DOI was the best institution, according to Ickes, to take on the “Herculean job” of converting America from an efficient war machine to a successful peacetime producer. For Ickes, it would take “regional development at its boldest” – which only the DOI, and not TVA-style agencies, could manage – not only to cultivate whole river basins, but to link them together for broad-based social improvement across the continent.51

In the early postwar moment, even as Congress had soured on the TVA idea, Interior’s plans closely resembled but radically expanded the scope of comprehensive development schemes. DOI cast itself as both a potential nationwide planning authority and federal electric utility that, in the words of Assistant Secretary of the Interior C. Girard Davidson, would “make real the slogans of ‘better living, less drudgery,’ ‘more jobs, more production’” to ensure that “all competitors in free enterprise will have an equal opportunity to move forward.”52

But this was not just talk. Interior actively worked to implement its ideals in all sections of the postwar United States, including the South. As early as 1947, DOI contemplated plans to extend the Bureau of Reclamation’s territory and power marketing authority to Dixie.53 The idea that carried the day, however, was to establish in the region a public power marketing bureau modeled on the Bonneville and Southwestern Power Administrations. Formally established in 1950, the explicit mission of this new agency, named the Southeastern Power Administration (SEPA), was to ensure, potentially through federally-owned power lines, that rural electric cooperatives in the ten-state area south of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi Rivers would receive the cheap energy generated at the Army Engineers’ dams.54 SEPA represented the possible ← 431 | 432 → realization of public power advocates’ dreams: a coherent, wholly integrated electrical production, transmission, and distribution system that would furnish reliable energy and economic stability for the postwar South. For southern utilities, it signaled the realization of a nightmare. Not only had the fuel source over which they once held monopoly control been seized by a centralized authority. The means to build a competing, government-owned power network, which countenanced no single-river-basin limitations, was now in place as well.

Southern utilities did not retreat in the face of DOI’s incursion into their region. Rather, they continued to call on familiar tactics that denounced public power, especially as advanced by DOI and its transmission agencies, as a socialistic Trojan horse that would soon reveal its true contents and destroy America. Condemnations of purportedly socialistic trends gained new potency in the late 1940s and early 1950s as the chilling effects of the Cold War wafted across the nation. And yet, even as they tapped into widespread worries of a Communist invasion in order to achieve their ends at places such as Clarks Hill, power company executives were not primarily concerned about the possibilities of the Soviet menace in the United States. The force that most frightened business leaders, as historians Kevin Kruse and Kim Phillips-Fein have argued, was still the New Deal state.55 Given the enduring popularity and success of the New Deal-style programs, however, Georgia Power and its allies did not lead a direct counteroffensive meant to immediately destroy the New Deal state. Instead, even as it continued to propagandize against the perceived socialistic tendencies of the federal government, Georgia Power subsumed the public power network within its system. The company ceded control of the South’s rivers to the Army Engineers but thwarted DOI’s efforts to channel public hydroelectricity directly to rural electric cooperatives by decisively shifting to coal as their primary fuel source and by working to maintain control over the region’s transmission system. The transition to fossil fuels that Georgia Power and other southern utilities fully embraced during the fight for Clarks Hill both effectively brought public power in the South to an end and reasserted private corporations’ monopoly over the production, transmission, and distribution of electric energy.

DOI’s aggressive expansion in the early postwar years provoked strong responses from political conservatives and power company managers fearful that they would soon have to deal with a force far worse than the TVA. A southern utility executive griped that “under the present ← 432 | 433 → Interior Department attitude,” all “privately owned power and light companies would eventually be nationalized.” In this light, the Tennessee Valley Authority had clearly become the “lesser of two evils.” DOI posed a far more worrisome threat, with designs for the creation of ever more “mammoth power projects that continually threaten private enterprise.”56 DOI’s southern transmission organizations in particular drew utility managers’ ire as the tools through which the federal government would undermine American freedom. One advertisement warned consumers that they “had better watch out” for the Southwestern Power Administration. Through SPA, DOI was building a “far-flung competing power system” that would ultimately act as a “Regional Authority” that would soon take over private utilities in the region.57 SEPA promised to be even worse. A southern utility executive lamented that with the establishment of SEPA, which, aside from the Bureau of Reclamation, would control the largest electrical service territory in the nation, “the Federal Government is welding the final link in a public power chain that threatens to choke off more than twenty major private utility companies throughout an eighteen-state area in the South.”58

Abstract notions of a “public power chain” across the South began to take concrete form in 1950 as SEPA’s leadership drafted plans to construct high-tension electric transmission lines that would directly connect Clarks Hill, whose construction the Army Engineers had begun in 1948, to rural electric cooperatives’ distribution systems in Georgia and South Carolina. SEPA’s administrators believed that if their organization were to fulfill the New Deal mission of equitable natural resource distribution and to follow in the footsteps of its sister power administrations, Bonneville and Southwestern, then it must immediately begin constructing power lines to serve preference customers – a move that private utilities nervously anticipated and interpreted as a bald act of aggression.59

In an attempt to maintain private utilities’ supremacy over the southern energy landscape, new Georgia Power president Clifford McManus (in office 1947-1951) used an appearance before Truman’s Water Resources Policy Commission in July 1950 to attempt to deflate tensions and implement a new strategy. In his statement to the commission, McManus surprisingly reversed his company’s earlier position and flatly admitted that utilities in his region “do not oppose these river developments.” Because the Army Engineers’ dams contributed to southern modernization ← 433 | 434 → through flood control, navigation, recreation, and even power generation, McManus continued, they were “legitimate governmental enterprises.” But the legitimacy of government enterprise stopped there.60

Aiming to keep DOI out of the South, McManus demanded that private utilities must purchase all energy generated at the Army Engineers’ hydroelectric plants at the point of generation. Private companies would then transmit that electricity to preference customers in accordance with the 1944 Flood Control Act. Such an arrangement, McManus argued, would enable Georgia Power, which owned all power lines in the state and had plans to build more, to assume the task of transmission more cost effectively than SEPA. It would also prevent SEPA from “destructively competing” for a customer base to which private energy firms already provided transmission services.61

Most importantly, McManus concluded, such a pact would allow cooperatives and other public customers to benefit from the reliability and abundance of Georgia’s coal-fired electrical system. Because water had disappointed the South so many times, McManus claimed, it could now be counted on only as reserve power. Even the Army Engineers’ massive installations such as Clarks Hill, he warned the commission, could not contend with the region’s periodic droughts. Now, though, given coal’s ascendance, rivers would no longer have to form the foundation for southern electrical generation – for private or public customers. McManus thus proposed that, since water had proven itself to be such an unreliable fuel source, “existing and new steam plants can be operated to ‘firm up’ government hydroelectric power and, in effect, convert it into power usable at all times.”62

Representatives of Georgia’s rural electric cooperatives clearly divined Georgia Power’s intentions and what McManus’s proposal would mean for public power’s future. Indeed, Georgia Power had decisively become a coal-based utility since the announcement of FPC’s 1946 Clarks Hill decision. Whereas in 1946 the company’s steam plants accounted for about 53 percent of total capacity, by 1950 coal power accounted for 70 percent of its total capacity. And even as the company brought a new dam online in the 1950s, coal far outpaced water in kilowatt-hour production (87 percent to 13 percent by 1955). The disparity between Georgia Power’s coal- and water-based production only continued to grow across the 1950s and 1960s.63 According to GEMC official John Chambless, if Clarks Hill’s ← 434 | 435 → electric current flowed into Georgia Power’s coal-based system – a vast web of generating stations, power lines, and distribution networks in which electricity had become completely fungible – it would be seamlessly integrated with private power and thus “lose its identity” as public electricity.64 If that came to pass, government power networks – a “God given right that made the blessings of electricity available for the first time to the rural people” – would effectively cease to exist.65

SEPA’s administrator, Ben Creim, refused to capitulate to Georgia Power’s proposal to absorb public power into its system. Instead, backed by new Interior Secretary Oscar Chapman, Creim offered Georgia Power the opportunity to “wheel” (i.e., deliver, not buy/sell) electricity from Clarks Hill to preference customers’ distribution networks. Wheeling arrangements had become common practice in the United States by 1950; but McManus and his successor, Harllee Branch, held fast to the position that they must own all of Clarks Hill’s power. SEPA refused to budge as well. For the next half decade, SEPA, GEMC, and Georgia Power stood locked in a stalemate over who would own the power flowing from public dams in the South.66

Neither side made much progress in the case until Attorney General Herbert Brownell affirmed the preference principle and sanctioned SEPA’s proposed wheeling arrangement in 1955. Brownell argued that DOI must contract directly with preference customers even if they lacked the means to transmit their own power from government dams. Along with Congressional promises to do the same, he further intimated that DOI might aid cooperatives in acquiring or building power lines that would bind together a coherent, southern public power network.67

With Brownell’s intervention, GEMC seemed to have won a victory at Clarks Hill. Smelling blood in the water, GEMC’s chief executive, Walter Harrison, issued a proposal in March 1956 for the construction of a transmission system that would integrate Clarks Hill’s facilities with the Army Engineers’ new Jim Woodruff dam on the Chattahoochee River and, thus, with rural cooperatives across the state.68 Faced once again with the creation of a rival electric system that would cut across Georgia – which Branch castigated as “tyranny” and “a device for socializing ← 435 | 436 → our economy” – Georgia Power agreed to reconsider negotiations for a wheeling agreement.69 Within two months of Harrison’s proposal, Georgia Power and SEPA had come to an agreement for the disposal of Clarks Hill’s electric power by way of a wheeling contract.70 This connection only grew deeper in 1957 when SEPA contracted with private utilities to wheel electricity from each of the Army Engineers’ dams in Georgia, and indeed across the entirety of the South, to rural electric cooperatives.71 Even as preference customers in Georgia had seemingly maintained the identity of their power, Georgia Power had successfully prevented rural cooperatives from building an independent generation and transmission system and had effectively converted the output of public dams into private electricity. The energy flowing from Clarks Hill had been seamlessly integrated with and subsumed within Georgia Power’s privately controlled network. The potential spread of public power in the South had been halted.

With the final settlement at Clarks Hill, Georgia Power had defeated what its leaders denounced as the socialization of their state and region by using coal and control over transmission lines to dilute, and in fact destroy, public power in the South. In Georgia Power’s system, electricity had become a completely transposable commodity, and any public hydropower funneled into the private transmission system essentially became coal-fired power. Rural electric cooperatives certainly did not disappear in the wake of Clarks Hill. Rather, they were seamlessly assimilated into the coal-based system of private power in the South.

The incorporation of public power into the southern system of private power was further reinforced some fifteen years after the final settlement regarding electrical transmission at Clarks Hill. In 1973, thirty-eight of Georgia’s federally-funded rural electric cooperatives banded together to form the Oglethorpe Power Corporation, which helped bailout a Georgia Power Company – on which GEMC had come to rely for its power supply – teetering on the brink of insolvency at the hands of both economic and energy crisis. Completing the process of agreeing to depend on a coal-based private generation and transmission network, a process that began with the wheeling contracts of the 1950s, Oglethorpe forsook public hydroelectricity and bought into Georgia Power’s system. Though Oglethorpe’s investment helped finance construction of two ← 436 | 437 → nuclear plants and a new coal-fired plant, in part with low-interest federal REA loans, it gained only a minority interest in each of these generating stations and remained unable to forge a set of policies that would have maintained public power’s independence.72 What was more, empowered by legislation that Georgia Power’s attorney’s drafted, Oglethorpe took the expensive and undesirable job of rural and suburban electrical distribution out of Georgia Power’s hands, becoming the de facto agent for allocating private coal-fired power to REA cooperatives in nearly three-fourths of the state.73 By the mid 1970s, the system of southern public power had been subsumed within that of southern private power, and rural cooperatives had been essentially converted into private power customers.

Much as historian Karl Brooks has argued about Hells Canyon, the fight for Clarks Hill ultimately “unplugged the New Deal” in the South by entrusting to the private realm reliable flows of electric energy for (purportedly) continuous economic growth and human progress in traditionally underserved communities. It matter little that the 1956-57 wheeling arrangements theoretically transported public waterpower to public cooperatives. The maintenance of a private transmission network – into which the federal government’s hydroelectricity flowed and intermingled with Georgia Power’s fossil fuel electricity – prevented GEMC’s members from realizing the New Deal-inspired dream of a wholly independent public power system. That dream was even more thoroughly dashed in the 1970s when Oglethorpe Power agreed to become a junior associate in Georgia Power’s business.

There are, however, different lessons to be gleaned from a consideration of hydroelectricity in the South. Brooks demonstrates that private utilities’ critiques of the “phantom socialists” of public power produced unintended consequences and ironically “laid the groundwork for later critiques of pell-mell electrification.”74 By contrast, rivers in the South were asked to do less of a certain kind of work not because of skepticism toward pell-mell electrification, but because the type of society southerners favored for the postwar world demanded constantly increasing amounts of energy that, seemingly, could only be provided by the private realm – even if that realm had to be at least partly funded ← 437 | 438 → by federal largess. The Clarks Hill debate points to a crucial moment in the mid-twentieth century when southerners began to confront questions about public and private relationships to nature, energy, and political economy. In the 1970s, journalist Kirkpatrick Sale described a “Power Shift” in the United States away from the Northeast to the South – also referred to as the “Sunbelt” – based on the ideal of perpetual growth led by federally-backed private capital. The Clarks Hill drama can help us think more about the basis on which such a shift in power was based.

* The author thanks the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Life Members’ Fellowship in Electrical History program, for its generous support in the preparation of this piece.

1 The Georgia Electric Membership Cooperation, established in 1940, represents the forty-two rural electric cooperatives across Georgia, all formed between 1936 and 1948, following the creation of the Rural Electrification Administration in 1935. See Hank McQuade, Light up Our Land: Georgia Electric Membership Corporation: The First 50 Years (Atlanta: Georgia Electric Membership Cooperation, 1990).

2 John R. Chambless, “Statement Concerning Disposition of Clark Hill Power,” Jun. 18, 1953, 1, James C. Davis Papers (hereafter JCD Papers), MSS# 507, box 76, folder “Georgia Electric Membership Corp.,” Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Books Library, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, emphasis in original. Also see Chambless, “Objections of the Georgia Co-Operatives to the Interior Department’s Tri-contract,” n.d. [1953?], JCD Papers, box 204, folder “Clark Hill Dam.”

3 Harllee Branch to Oscar Chapman, Jan. 10, 1953, JCD Papers, box 76, folder “Georgia Power Company 1953.”

4 “Branch Charges ‘Pure Hokum’ in GEMC Row,” Atlanta Journal, Dec. 16, 1954; Gene Smith, “‘Socialism’ Trend in Power Scorned,” New York Times, Mar. 13, 1956.

5 “‘Power Empire’ Charged in Clark Hill Case,” Atlanta Journal, Jan. 7, 1953.

6 The literature on post-Second World War clashes over federal dam construction has focused almost exclusively on the US West. See Mark W. T. Harvey, A Symbol of Wilderness: Echo Park and the American Conservation Movement (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000); and Andrew Needham, Power Lines: Phoenix and the Making of the Modern Southwest (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014), 158-171.

7 Karl Boyd Brooks, Public Power, Private Dams: The Hells Canyon High Dam Controversy (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006), 20-1.

8 One notable exception is Christopher J. Manganiello, Southern Water, Southern Power: How the Politics of Cheap Energy and Water Scarcity Shaped a Region (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015), 92-115. Also see Phyllis Komarek De Luna, Public versus Private Power during the Truman Administration: A Study of Fair Deal Liberalism (New York: Peter Lang, 1997), 99-101.

9 Georgia Power Company, Annual Report 1928 (Atlanta: Georgia Power Company, 1929), 10; Bureau of the Census, Census of Electrical Industries, 1937: Electric Light and Power Industry (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office [hereafter GPO], 1940), 40; Federal Power Commission, Statistics of Electric Utilities in the United States, 1939 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1940), 607.

10 Georgia Railway and Power Company, Industrial Georgia: Cotton Manufactures (Atlanta: Georgia Railway and Power Company, 1923), 81.

11 “H.M. Atkinson, 76, Power Company Chairman, Dies,” Atlanta Constitution, Jan. 22, 1939.

12 Wade Wright, History of the Georgia Power Company, 1855-1956 (Atlanta: Georgia Power Company, 1957), 201-4.

13 Manganiello, Southern Water, Southern Power, 61-7.

14 Wright, Georgia Power, 332-335.

15 Manganiello, Southern Water, Southern Power, 96.

16 Sarah T. Phillips, This Land, This Nation: Conservation, Rural America, and the New Deal (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 21-36.

17 US Bureau of the Census, Census of Electrical Industries: Central Light and Power Stations, 1932 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1935), 46-47; and US Bureau of the Census, Census of Electrical Industries: Central Light and Power Stations, 1937 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1940), 39-40.

18 Georgia Power Company, Annual Report 1941, 1, 4; “Georgia Group for Mobilizing Industry Ready,” Atlanta Constitution, Aug. 28, 1940.

19 Christopher J. Manganiello, “Dam Crazy with Wild Consequences: Artificial Lakes and Natural Rivers in the American South, 1845-1990” (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Georgia, 2010), 177-8, 181-3; Georgia Power Company, “Power Curtailment Must Work NOW,” Atlanta Daily World, Jun. 18, 1941.

20 Georgia Power Company, “An Appeal to All Users of Electric Light, Heat and Power,” Atlanta Daily World, May 28, 1941.

21 Georgia Power Company, “US Government Orders Immediate BLACKOUT,” Atlanta Constitution, Nov. 6, 1941.

22 Georgia Power Company, Annual Report 1941, 8.

23 “Water Power vs. Coal,” Atlanta Constitution, Dec. 21, 1941. Also see Twentieth Century Fund, The Power Industry and the Public Interest: A Summary of the Results of a Survey of the Relations between the Government and the Electric Power Industry (New York: Twentieth Century Fund, 1944), 5-6.

24 Federal Power Commission (FPC), Statistics of Electric Utilities in the United States, 1939 (GPO, 1940), 601, 607; FPC, Statistics of Electric Utilities in the United States, 1940 (GPO, 1941), 601, 608; FPC, Statistics of Electric Utilities in the United States, 1941 (GPO, 1942), 601, 608; FPC, Statistics of Electric Utilities in the United States, 1942 (GPO, 1943), 601, 608; FPC, Statistics of Electric Utilities in the United States, 1944 (GPO, 1945), 601, 607; Georgia Power Company, Annual Reports 1939-1944.

25 Jay Walz, “Cold Impedes Struggle against Fuel Shortage,” New York Times, Jan. 21, 1945; “Army Tosses Coal Shortage Crisis of 20 Million Tons to Civilians,” Atlanta Constitution, Jan. 9, 1945.

26 C. Girard Davidson, “The Need for More Electric Power: Shortages Delay Production” (Apr. 11, 1949), Vital Speeches of the Day 15 (May 1, 1949): 446; John P. Callahan, “Consumers Fear Power Shortage,” New York Times, Oct. 26, 1947.

27 David E. Nye, The Night the Lights Went Out: A History of Blackouts in America (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2010), 60.

28 Davidson, “Need for More Electric Power”: 445; Franklin P. Huddle, “The Outlook is Dim,” New Republic, May 12, 1947, 25.

29 Andrew Needham, “Power Lines: Urban Space, Energy Development, and the Making of the Modern Southwest” (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Michigan, 2006), 184-9; Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America (New York: Vintage Books, 2003), 114-9; and Elaine Tyler May, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (New York: Basic Books, 2008), 76, 157.

30 Puget Sound Power & Light Company advertisement, “Reddy’s Got the Reconversion Blues,” Reddy News, Jul. 8, 1946, 163. Reddy Kilowatt Records, 1929-1999 (hereafter RkW records), AC. 0913, box 76: “Reddy News 1946-47,” Archives Center, National Museum of American History (Washington, DC).

31 Quote in May, Homeward Bound, 76.

32 “Excerpt from Statement of Preston S. Arkwright at Hearing before Federal Power Commission for a License to Construct and Operate Clark Hill Hydro Plant,” October 1946, 1. JCD Papers, box 183, folder “Clark Hill Dam,” 1-5; quotes on 2 and 3.

33 Harllee Branch to James C. Davis, Jan. 18, 1947, JCD Papers, box 183, folder “Clark Hill Dam,” emphasis in original.

34 U.S. Congress, House, 80th Cong., 1st sess., HR 3826 (Jun. 13, 1947), 1-2, in JCD Papers, box 183, folder “Clark Hill Dam.”

35 Dondero quoted in De Luna, Public versus Private Power, 35; and in Brooks, Public Power, Private Dams, 132.

36 Myrtle Morton to James C. Davis, Mar. 19, 1948, JCD Papers, box 183, folder “Clark Hill Dam.”

37 Leona Westbrook to James C. Davis, Mar. 17, 1948, JCD Papers, box 183, folder “Clark Hill Dam.”

38 Harry S. Truman, “Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union,” Jan. 5, 1949, The American Presidency Project, (accessed Apr. 11, 2015); De Luna, Public versus Private Power, 16-21.

39 “Bill Asks 7 Boards to Control Floods,” New York Times, Feb. 11, 1937; James C. Williams, Energy and the Making of Modern California (Akron: University of Akron Press, 1997), 262-6; Louis Broomfield, “Flood Control,” Atlanta Constitution, Apr. 4, 1945.

40 Wesley C. Clark, “Proposed ‘Valley Authority’ Legislation,” American Political Science Review 40/1 (1946): 62.

41 Manganiello, “Dam Crazy,” 189-190; “Arnall Backs ‘Little TVA’ Plan for Savannah River Development,” Atlanta Constitution, Mar. 16, 1945.

42 Gladstone Williams, “Georgia Congressman is Credited with Clark’s Hill Development,” Atlanta Constitution, Jul. 18, 1948.

43 “Fortson Lauds Benefits of Savannah Project,” Atlanta Constitution, Mar. 15, 1945.

44 Clayton R. Koppes, “Environmental Policy and American Liberalism: The Department of the Interior, 1933-1953,” Environmental Review 7/1 (1983): 21.

45 See Commission on the Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government [Hoover Commission], Task Force on Water Resources and Power, Report on Water Resources and Power, Vol. II (Washington, DC: GPO, 1955), 447-475 and 520-539.

46 Flood Control Act of 1944, Public Law 534, 78th Cong., 2nd sess., chap. 665, HR 4485 (Dec. 22, 1944), Sec. 5, 3-4, (last accessed Apr. 25, 2015).

47 Flood Control Act of 1944, Sec. 5, 4.

48 Manganiello, Southern Water, Southern Power, 98-9.

49 Brooks, Public Power, Private Dams, 44-7.

50 Harold Ickes, “Veterans…Here’s Your Empire,” Atlanta Constitution, Dec. 5, 1943.

51 “Ickes Making Bid to Supervise Ocean-to-Ocean Power Project,” Atlanta Constitution, Feb. 18, 1945.

52 Davidson, “Need for More Electric Power,” 447.

53 Hoover Commission, Water Resources and Power, 540-54; De Luna, Public versus Private Power, 95.

54 For a history of SEPA, see Gus Norwood, Gift of the Rivers: Power for the People of the Southeast: A History of the Southeastern Power Administration (Washington, DC: US Department of Energy, 1990).

55 Kim Phillips-Fein, Invisible Hands: The Businessmen’s Crusade against the New Deal (New York: WW Norton, 2009), ix-x, 60; Kevin Kruse, One Nation under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America (New York: Basic Books, 2015), xiv.

56 Callahan, “Utilities Watch New House Bill,” New York Times, Jun. 1, 1947.

57 Arkansas Power & Light Company advertisement, “WATCH OUT!,” Reddy News, Jul. 14, 1947: 211. RkW Records, box 76, folder “Reddy News 1946-1947.”

58 Callahan, “20 Utilities Seen in Peril in South,” New York Times, Mar. 19, 1950.

59 Norwood, Gift of the Rivers, 35-8.

60 Georgia and the Georgia Power Company (Atlanta: Georgia Power Company, 1951), 32.

61 Ibid., 32-3.

62 Ibid., 34.

63 See Georgia Power Company, Annual Reports 1946-1955.

64 John Chambless, “Statement Concerning Disposition of Clark Hill Power,” Jun. 18, 1953, 2, JCD Papers, box 76, folder “Georgia Electric Membership Corp.”

65 John Chambless, “Report [on the Clarks Hill Project]” n.d. [1953?], 3, JCD Papers, box 76, folder “Georgia Electric Membership Corp.”

66 Norwood, Gift of the Rivers, 37-8, 43-5; Wyatt Wells, “Public Power in the Eisenhower Administration,” Journal of Policy History 20/2 (2008): 238-9.

67 Norwood, Gift of the Rivers, 48-50.

68 “Branch Doubts Congress Ok on Dam Linkup,” Atlanta Journal, Mar. 28, 1956.

69 “Danger Foreseen to Private Power,” New York Times, Jun. 6, 1957.

70 Joe Hamilton, “Pact Nearing in the Clark Hill Row?” Atlanta Journal, May 16, 1956.

71 Georgia Power Company, “Summary of Contract between Georgia Power Company and Southeastern Power Administration,” Oct. 11, 1957, JCD Papers, box 205, folder “Buford Dam 1957”; Norwood, Gift of the Rivers, 50.

72 Oglethorpe gained only a 30 percent stake in each of the Georgia Power plants in which it invested. See Jack Doyle and Vic Reinemer, Lines across the Land: Rural Electric Cooperatives: The Changing Politics of Energy in Rural America (Washington, DC: Environmental Policy Institute, 1979), 77-87.

73 Bill Jordan, “Utilities Bill Called Work of Georgia Power Lawyers,” Atlanta Constitution, Jan. 16, 1973; Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, Rural Electrification: A Brief History (Atlanta: GEMC, 2008), 2-3.

74 Brooks, Public Power, Private Dams, 139, 225.