Angering Tennessee’s two Republican senators, President Barack Obama again wants Senate consideration of energy efficiency expert Marilyn Brown for a full term on the TVA board of directors, reports Paul Barton of Gannett’s Washington bureau. The nomination, sent to Capitol Hill Thursday night, comes more than two months after Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker used Senate procedures to block Obama’s previous attempt to appoint her to a six-year term.
Brown, who came to the board in 2010 to fill out the a vacated term and served through the end of 2012, is widely recognized for her expertise in energy efficiency and other “sustainable” energy policies. She teaches in Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy after formerly working for the Department of Energy at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
“This is another example of the Obama White House not listening,” Alexander said in a statement Friday.
“I told the White House in advance that the TVA board needs a nominee with a better understanding of the relationship between low electricity rates and better jobs in the Tennessee Valley. The Senate now has the responsibility to exercise its constitutional role of advice and consent on the nominee.”
Corker was even more critical.
“TVA needs leaders who enthusiastically support the mission of producing economical electricity and have an abiding appreciation of its important economic development role and impact on the well-being of Valley residents,” he said.
“Unfortunately, during my discussions with Dr. Brown, it was clear she does not share that point of view.”
The U.S. Senate has confirmed President Obama’s nomination of four people to the TVA Board of Directors,according to TVA.
They are V. Lynn Evans, a Memphis accountant; Peter Mahurin, chairman of a financial services firm in Bowling Green, Ky.; Mike McWherter of Dresden, a beer distributor and the 2010 Democratic nominee for governor; and Joe H. Ritch, a Huntsville, Ala., attorney.
Mahurin had been nominated by Obama in February, the other three in September.
Without the confirmations, the TVA board would have begun the year without a quorum for normal conduct of business, With that in mind, the board voted to delegate some authority to the agency’s new CEO, Bill Johnson, whose term officially began with the new year.
— UPDATE from Michael Collins: Senators did not act on the nomination of Marilyn Brown, an energy policy professor at Georgia Tech, who currently serves on the board and whom Obama nominated for a second term. Brown’s nomination will expire when the new Congress assumes office today, and Obama will have to either renominate her or choose someone else for the position.
Regardless, the confirmation of four new members means the board will almost certainly have a quorum at its next meeting Feb. 14 in Chattanooga. Here’s a news release issued jointly by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker:
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., made the following statements regarding Senate confirmation of Joe H. Ritch, of Alabama; Michael McWherter, of Tennessee; Vera Lynn Evans, of Tennessee; and C. Peter Mahurin, of Kentucky, to be members of the Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors. The nominees passed the Senate by unanimous consent Tuesday evening. “Good leadership at TVA is a priority for all Tennesseans, who count on having access to cheap, clean, reliable electricity–and I believe, after meeting these individuals and studying their backgrounds and qualifications, that they will provide strong board leadership,” said Alexander.
“I was encouraged by the backgrounds of these nominees and am pleased they were confirmed by the Senate. TVA’s ability to provide low-cost, reliable power is critical to the economic health of our state and region, so I appreciate the willingness of experienced individuals to serve TVA as it goes through an important leadership transition over the next few months,” said Corker.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker said Wednesday TVA could be destroyed if it remains under the federal government control and suggested that the region’s governors could be better overseers of the agency providing electricity to 9 million people in seven states.
“On most days in Washington, I fear the federal government is going to destroy TVA,” Corker told reporters following a speech to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.
The senator has previously expressed concern about the lack of corporate executive experience on the TVA board of directors, saying its “entire governance structure” needs to be reviewed. On Wednesday, he elaborated on some possible ways of restructuring while stressing “I’m not proposing anything” at this point.
President Obama has nominated Mike McWherter, the 2010 Democratic nominee for Tennessee governor, to fill one of five current vacancies on the TVA Board of Directors.
Obama also nominated V. Lynn Evans, a Memphis accountant, and Joe H. Ritch, a Huntsville, Ala., attorney, as new members of the board while proposing to give Marilyn A. Brown, a current board member whose term has expired, a new term on the nine-member panel.
The president in February had nominated Peter Mahurin of Bowling Green, Ky., to a TVA board seat, but Mahurin’s nomination has not been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The four nominations announced Friday in a White House news release are also subject to Senate confirmation.
The nominations come with the Senate planning to recess until after the November election and with Tennessee’s U.S. Sen. Bob Corker declaring the “entire TVA governance structure” should be re-examined with an eye toward reform.
They also come with the TVA board facing the task of selecting a new CEO to replace Tom Kilgore, whose announced retirement takes effect at the end of the year..
A day after TVA’s chief executive said he is stepping down, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker warned Friday that the board that will pick a new TVA head includes too many directors without corporate experience or the financial skills to oversee a complex agency like TVA.
More from the Chattanooga Times-Free Press: “As you look at TVA today as an $11 billion-a-year company with tremendous challenges, it has a board of directors with the qualifications that I think would cause most Tennesseans to be very concerned,” Corker said. “We have only one person on the board, to my knowledge, who even has any corporate board experience.”
Currently, only six of the nine seats on TVA’s board are filled and, unless Congress acts to confirm new members, the TVA board could shrink to only four members and lack a quorum by the end of the year.
Corker said he personally likes the members of the TVA board. But he said too many directors were appointed based upon geographic or partisan politics, not the person’s experience and skills to oversee America’s biggest government utility. Corker said in he past one TVA director admitted he didn’t know what was a “P&L statement” of profits and losses.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said in a statement Friday that he agrees with Corker that “the new governance structure [adopted for TVA in 2004] has not worked out as well as I had hoped.
“But I believe it can work if the president will nominate well-qualified board members who then pick a strong chief executive and allow that executive plenty of latitude to lead TVA,” Alexander said.
Members of the TVA board are appointed for five-year terms by the president and must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The board must hire a new chief executive by the end of the year to replace Tom Kilgore, the 64-year-old engineer who announced his retirement Thursday after six years as TVA’s top officer.
President Barack Obama has nominated another financial expert to serve on the TVA board — Hilliard Lyons Financial Services Chairman Peter Mahurin of Kentucky — but the U.S. Senate has yet to confirm the appointment.
The terms of three retired bankers — Dennis Bottorff, of Nashville, Mike Duncan of Kentucky and Tom Gilliland of Blairsville, Ga., — ended last December.
Only TVA Chairman Bill Sansom now is qualified to meet federal regulations for TVA’s audit committee. Sansom, a former member of then Gov. Lamar Alexander’s cabinet, has served on several corporate boards, including First Tennessee Bank and Astec Industries in Chattanooga.
…Former TVA Chairman Craven Crowell, a Democrat who also worked on Capital Hill, said the qualifications of board members should have been better described in the reforms Congress adopted to replace the original three-member full-time TVA board with its current nine-member, part-time board.
“When the board was enlarged there were no congressional hearings to consider the unintended consequences of the change,” he said. “We ended up with a major restructuring of the board without any requirement for a balance of experience and politics on the board and with part-time board members who don’t always have the time for the steep learning curve involved with leading TVA.”
— Note: TVA’s part-time board served as a model for Gov. Bill Haslam’s legislation transforming the Tennessee Regulatory Authority from having full-time directors and no executive director to a part-time board with a full-time executive director.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Electricity rates for Tennessee Valley Authority customers in seven states will not be increased in the coming fiscal year.
TVA’s board of directors voted Thursday to approve an $11.2 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year that begins Oc.t 1 and does not include any rate hikes.
The federal utility provides electricity to 9 million people in Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
TVA chief executive officer Tom Kilgore also announced at the meeting that he will be retiring.
TVA’s board of directors appointed Kilgore as CEO in 2006. Kilgore, who said he was in the fourth quarter of life and wanted to pursue other things, said he preferred to leave in four to six months but would wait until the board appoints his successor.
The Tennessee Valley Authority begins the new year with one third of its board seats vacant, reports the Chattanooga TFP. When Congress adjourned on Christmas Eve, three of TVA’s most senior and active board members left the agency’s 9-member board. President Obama has yet to nominate any successors to fill the three vacancies.
Three retired bankers — former TVA chairman Dennis Bottorff of Nashville, former TVA chairman Mike Duncan of Kentucky and TVA Director Tom Gilliland of Blairsville, Ga., — ended their TVA employment at the end of the year after their normal terms had already expired in May.
Under the TVA Act, directors may stay until their successor is confirmed or until the end of the congressional session in the year in which their terms end
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Hospital operator Vanguard Health Systems Inc. said Thursday former Tennessee Gov. Philip N. Bredesen has joined its board of directors.
Bredesen served as governor from 2003 to 2011 and also served as Democratic co-chair of the National Governor’s Association task force on health reform, according to Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanguard. Bredesen also has served as mayor of Nashville and has helped start several health care ventures, including a health care management company from his home.
Vanguard owns and operates 28 acute care and specialty hospitals in Chicago, Phoenix and Detroit, among other cities. The company’s shares debuted in June on the New York Stock Exchange after Vanguard raised $450 million in an initial public offering of 25 million shares priced at $18.
The stock has fallen steadily since its debut and closed at $9.78 on Wednesday after closing at $18.05 on June 22, its first day of trading.