Update on President Trump’s Nominations to TVA Board as U.S. Senate session winds down

There's a chance two nominees for TVA's Board could be voted on by the U.S. Senate before the session ends if they are attached to other legislation, though time is running out. Any potential TVA board confirmation votes should be straight up or down votes, and not attached to any other piece(s) of legislation.

Maggie Shober and Brady Watson | December 8, 2020 | Elections, Tennessee, Utilities

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors is TVA’s only regulator. Directors are appointed to the Board by the President and approved by the U.S. Senate. Currently, there are five Directors on the Board, with four openings. Two sitting Board members have terms that expire in May of 2021, though they can remain on the Board through the remainder of 2021 if an appointment for their replacement has not been approved.

TVA’s current Board of Directors lacks the diversity of the Valley. Clockwise from top left are Kenneth Allen, former coal executive, John Ryder, former counsel to the Republican National Committee, William Kilbride, former President/CEO of the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, Jeff Smith, administrator of the contractor that operates the Oak Ridge National Lab, and A.D. Razier, an executive with the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games.

President Trump has nominated longtime telecommunications executive Charles “Bill” Cook Jr. of Oxford, Mississippi to the TVA Board of Directors. The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety will hold a hearing on Wednesday, December 9 at 9:45 AM ET to consider Cook’s nomination in the last month before Trump leaves office and a new Congress begins in 2021. After a Subcommittee hearing, the nomination would need to be approved by the EPW Committee before it can be brought for a vote by the full U.S. Senate.

There isn’t time for the Committee to approve Cook’s nomination before the end of the session, so it’s unclear why the Subcommittee is holding a hearing on it at all. The opening Cook is nominated to fill was opened when President Trump removed two members earlier this year after it was revealed that TVA planned to outsource several hundred IT jobs.

Former Tennessee State Representative, Beth Harwell (left), and East Tennessee State University, President Brian Noland (right), both nominated to serve on the TVA Board.

Earlier this year President Trump nominated former Tennessee State Representative, Beth Harwell, and East Tennessee State University, President Brian Noland, to serve on the TVA Board. Both were approved by the EPW committee this summer. There is a chance these two nominees could be voted on by the lame duck U.S. Senate before the session ends if they are attached to other legislation, though time is running out.

Our Take

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) believes any potential TVA board confirmation votes should be straight up or down votes, and not attached to any other piece(s) of legislation. Citizens in the Valley deserve to have an opportunity to contact their Senators and ask them to vote one way or the other without having to consider what else is being voted on.

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Maggie Shober
Maggie Shober works to speed the clean energy transformation in the Southeast through analysis and advocacy. She has expertise in renewable energy, energy efficiency, coal retirements, energy market modeling, and…
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