Tennessee Elec. Power Co. v. TVA
306 U.S. 118 (1939)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Tennessee Elec. Power Co. v. TVA, 306 U.S. 118 (1939)

Tennessee Electric Power Co. v. Tennessee Valley Authority

No. 27

Argued November 14, 15, 1938

Decided January 30, 1939

306 U.S. 118

Syllabus

1. The principle permitting suit against an agent of the Government to restrain execution of an unconstitutional statute protects only legal rights. P. 306 U. S. 137.

2. Franchises to be a corporation and to function as a public utility and nonexclusive franchises to occupy and use public property and places for service of the public do not grant freedom from competition. P. 306 U. S. 138.

3. The validity of a statutory grant of power cannot be challenged merely because its exercise results in harmful competition. The damage is damnum absque injuria. P. 306 U. S. 139.

Page 306 U. S. 119

4. State laws requiring electric power companies to obtain certificates of convenience and necessity as a condition to doing business do not confer upon those possessing such certificates a standing to enjoin operations of the Tennessee Valley Authority, which, though it has no such certificate, operates with consent of the State. P. 306 U. S. 141.

5. The appellant power companies may not raise, in this case, any question of discrimination forbidden by the Fourteenth Amendment involved in state exemption of the Tennessee Valley Authority from commission regulation. Frost v. Corporation Commission,278 U. S. 515, distinguished. P. 306 U. S. 143.

6. The competition of the Tennessee Valley Authority in underselling the power companies and in fixing resale rates by contract does not amount to regulation of their rates in violation of the Tenth Amendment, and gives rise to no cause of action under that Amendment or under the Ninth Amendment. P. 306 U. S. 143.

7. The findings and evidence in this case do not sustain the charge of a conspiracy between the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Public Works Administrator to intimidate the appellant power companies into selling their existing systems where the Authority desires to seize the market for electricity. P. 306 U. S. 144.

Cooperation by two federal officials, one acting under a statute whereby funds are provided for the erection of municipal plants and the other under a statute authorizing the production of electricity and its sale to such plants, in competition with the appellants, does not spell conspiracy to injure their business. P. 306 U. S. 146.

1 F.Supp. 947 affirmed.

Appeal from a decree of a District Court of three judges which dismissed a bill filed by numerous electric power companies wherein they sought to enjoin the Tennessee Valley Authority and its three executive officers and directors from generating, distributing, and selling electric power and from other injurious and allegedly unconstitutional activities in harmful and destructive competition with the appellants.

Page 306 U. S. 134

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