Joe Ritch becomes first Alabama TVA chairman

Joe Ritch becomes first Alabama TVA chairman

May 18th, 2014 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Joe Ritch

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

Huntville, Ala., attorney Joe Ritch today becomes the first chairman in TVA's 81-year history who lives in Alabama.

Ritch, a partner in the Sirote & Permutte law firm since 1982 and a member of the part-time TVA board since January 2013, succeeds Knoxville businessman Bill Sansom as head of the 9-member board that oversees America's biggest government-owned utility.

Sansom has served as a TVA director since the board was revamped in 2006 and was elected twice for 2-year terms as TVA chairman. The TVA board terms of Sansom and Chattanooga economist Dr. Barbara Haskew expire today, although the two will continue to serve on TVA 9-member board until either the president nominates and the senate confirms their successor or the current Congress adjourns for the year in late 2014.

"I can't replace Bill Sansom, but I will do my best," Ritch said at Sansom's last public board meeting in Memphis earlier this month."I am honored to be following in his footsteps and will do my utmost to keep the positive momentum Bill started going strong."

During his tenure, Sansom guided development of TVA's land policy, approved completion of the Watts Bar Nuclear Unit 2, adopted TVA's environmental policy, and helped TVA pay down its debt and close aging coal plants to help TVA stay beneath its $30 billion borrowing cap.

Ritch previously served as chairman of the Tennessee Valley Base Realignment and Closures Committee and was co-chairman of the Tennessee Valley Growth Coordination Group.

TVA was created on May 18, 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt created the federal agency to harness the power of the Tennessee River in the 7-state Tennessee Valley.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340