Senate confirms four Trump nominees to TVA board

The U.S. Senate has confirmed four of President Donald Trump’s nominees for positions on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s nine-member board of directors, reports the Times Free Press.

Among those approved was Jeff Smith, deputy lab director for operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who was named to one of the five-year terms. Smith was the lone new appointee from Tennessee to the board that oversees TVA operations in all or parts of seven Southeastern states.

…All four new board members are white males and most have business backgrounds.

Among them is retired coal executive Kenny Allen of Hopkins County, Ky., who formerly worked for the Armstrong Coal Co. in Kentucky.

Allen has been critical of EPA rules to limit carbon emissions from power plants, arguing in 2014 that Obama administration proposals would have “a devastating impact on America’s economy” and “slam the door shut on an already reeling coal industry.”

Also joining the board is A.D. Frazier of Atlanta, president emeritus of Georgia Oak Partners and a former president of Caremark RX who served as chief operating officer of the 1996 Atlanta Committee on the Olympic Games in Georgia.

The fourth new board member is James R. Thompson III of Decatur, Ala., president and chief executive of corporate billing at the National Commerce Corp.

Last January, some of the TVA appointments opened up after the Republican-controlled Senate in 2016 failed to confirm President Barack Obama’s reappointment of three Democratic board members.

Press release from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander:

NASHVILLE, December 22, 2017 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the Senate confirmed four of President Trump’s nominees – including Jeff Smith of Tennessee – to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors.

“I’m glad the Senate confirmed these nominations so the new board members can get to work at the nation’s largest public utility,” Alexander said.“Each of these nominees understands that TVA must continue to provide cheap, clean, reliable electricity for homes and businesses throughout the seven-state Tennessee Valley region. I appreciate the president selecting such well-qualified nominees, and I look forward to working with them in the coming years.”

One of the four nominees confirmed was Tennessean Jeff Smith. Alexander introduced Smith at his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in November, saying that because of his “expertise in nuclear energy, his background in management of a large facility and his understanding of large construction projects, he will make an excellent TVA board member.” President Trump announced Smith’s nomination in September.

Sen. Alexander and Sen. Corker recommended Mr. Smith, who is the Deputy Lab Director for Operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, because of his background in nuclear energy.  Oak Ridge National Laboratory employs nearly 5,000 people and has a budget of $1.4 billion. Mr. Smith, who is a resident of East Tennessee, will bring his experience to the nation’s largest public utility which has an annual budget of over $10 billion and employs more than 10,000 people.

Kenneth E. Allen of Kentucky, James R. Thompson III of Alabama, and A.D. Frazier of Georgia were also confirmed to serve on the TVA board.

Press release from U.S. Sen. Bob Corker:

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today released the following statement after the Senate confirmed four nominees, including Jeffrey Smith of Tennessee, to serve on the nine-member board of directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

“With over 9 million customers, TVA is the largest public power utility in the nation, and it is critical for the Tennessee Valley that it remains a low-cost, reliable producer of electricity, not only for ratepayers but also for our state’s business recruitment efforts,” said Corker. “The diverse backgrounds of these nominees give them the necessary qualifications to support TVA’s important mission, and I am pleased the Senate has acted swiftly to confirm them.”

Last month, Corker introduced Jeffrey Smith at a Senate Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee hearing on his nomination, saying: “I am confident that Jeff understands the needs of the Tennessee Valley and believe he will bring valuable experience to the TVA board.”

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