published Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

TVA board to have quorum

  • photo
    Marilyn Brown addresses the board and public during Thursday's Tennessee Valley Authority board meeting being held in the Northeast Alabama Community College Lyceum Auditorium in Scottsboro, Ala.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
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TVA board nominees

• V. Lynn Evans, the owner of V. Lynn Evans CPA, a certified public accounting and consulting firm, and a board member of Memphis Light, Gas, and Water Division since 2004.

• Michael McWherter, owner and president of Central Distributors Co. and Volunteer Distributing Co. The son of former Tennessee Gov. Ned McWherter, he has worked in private law practice with a focus on banking and administrative law.

• Joe H. Ritch, an attorney at the Sirote & Permutt law firm in Huntsville, Ala., and chairman of the Tennessee Valley Base Realignment and Closures Committee and co-chairman of the Tennessee Valley Growth Coordination Group.

• Peter Mahurin, chairman of Hilliard Lyons Financial Services and board member for Houchens Industries, Albany Bancorp, Cecelia Bancorp, Gray Construction, Jackson Financial and the Governors Scholars of Kentucky.

Source: TVA

After leading the Senate to a late nod Tuesday to approve four new TVA board members and give the nation's largest public utility a quorum for the coming year, Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker drew a line in the political sand.

The renomination of two-year board veteran Marilyn Brown, an expert and advocate of energy efficiency, was not offered to Senate members for approval.

"We respect her professional credentials, but we encourage the president to send another nominee with credentials better suited to the TVA board," according to a Wednesday joint statement from Corker and Alexander.

Brown, a co-recipent of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for co-authorship of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, praised the Senate for approving the other four nominees, but expressed disappointment with Corker and Alexander's characterization of her qualifications.

"I think ... I'm qualified and have really pulled my weight on the board being the chair of the newly formed nuclear oversight committee for two years, which has been quite an active committee responsibility and a very important one," she said.

Earlier, Corker and Alexander had praised the Senate confirmations "by unanimous consent" of Joe H. Ritch, of Alabama; Michael McWherter, of Tennessee; Vera Lynn Evans, of Tennessee; and C. Peter Mahurin, of Kentucky.

"Good leadership at TVA is a priority for all Tennesseans, who count on having access to cheap, clean, reliable electricity," Alexander said. "I believe, after meeting these individuals and studying their backgrounds and qualifications, that they will provide strong board leadership."

Corker, who had previously said TVA didn't have enough financial experts on its board, said he was "encouraged by the backgrounds" of the four approved nominees.

On Tuesday, TVA spokesman Duncan Mansfield said the four approved nominations still must be confirmed by the president.

Congressional aides said no up-or-down vote occurred on any of the nominees.

Members were notified of a unanimous consent request by the majority and minority leaders to confirm the nominees who were reported out of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

Alexander serves on that committee.

Receiving no objections, the nominees were confirmed unanimously without a vote just prior to the end of the Senate session Tuesday evening about 6 p.m., according to one aide. One nomination has been pending before the committee since February. Four have been pending since September.

Brown's credentials

Stephen Smith, a longtime TVA board watcher and executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said the Corker and Alexander statement was "nonsensical."

"Dr. Marilyn Brown has one of the best credential sets of any of the board members," he said. "She teaches at one of the country's premier engineering schools [Georgia Institute of Technology]. She clearly has the technical background, and she's been a big supporter of renewable energy and energy efficiency. The senators need to define what credentials they want that she doesn't have."

That question submitted by the newspaper to Corker's and Alexander's offices went unanswered Wednesday.

Routinely testifying before committees of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, Brown has become a national leader in the analysis and interpretation of energy futures in the United States.

At Georgia Tech in Atlanta she teaches graduate level courses on energy policy and technology, as well as a policy analysis capstone course for master's degree students.

During a previous career at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, she managed annual research budgets of $50 million to $130 million, focused on energy efficiency, renewable energy, the electric grids and energy engineering projects.

On Wednesday she said she very much wants to remain on the TVA board, and feels she has more to offer the utility that makes electricity for 9 million people in seven states.

"I've put so much in motion," she said. "But there's a lot more to be done. I'm not meaning to be critical of TVA, but I see plenty of opportunities [for energy efficiency and policy improvements.]

"It's a matter of public service to me, and I'd like to be part of it," she said. "I guess it's up the Senate."

about Pam Sohn...

Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...

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