Building the World

Bright Idea – TVA


Did the United States become a society driven by electricity because of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)? Tesla proved water could produce electricity;  the Hoover Dam, followed closely by the Tennessee Valley Authority, supplied it. But it took Norris town to show people how to use this new energy. Designed as housing for the women, men and families who came to the Knoxville area to work on the TVA, Norris was a showcase for electricity. At a time when few homes had wired power, the town offered refrigerators in every kitchen, and overhead lights on the porches of every house (porches were a hallmark of Tennessee life and remain popular today, evidenced by Porch Rocker and Parton songs). Well-lighted public schools invited new environments for learning. Peak/off-peak and low rate/high use policies were another innovation, encouraging development of all things electric. Can Norris and the TVA reveal ways to demonstrate products and power from new energy sources, such as solar? What is the next bright idea?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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