Haslam, legislative leaders name TRA officials

Haslam, legislative leaders name TRA officials

July 31st, 2012 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam

Photo by Tracey Trumbull /Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Thirty days after Gov. Bill Haslam's reshuffle at the Tennessee Regulatory Authority became law, Haslam and legislative leaders have finally appointed a full-time director and two new part-time directors.

Haslam's office today said the governor, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, and House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, have jointly named Earl Taylor, an attorney and East Tennessee businessman, as the agency's executive director.

The three also named James Allison, a utility industry veteran, as a director.

Haslam also appointed Herbert Hilliard, executive vice president and chief government relations officer of First Horizon National Corporation, to the new five-member, part-time TRA board.

"It is our job to make state government as accountable and responsive as possible to Tennesseans," Haslam said in a statement.

He said the appointees "bring years of experience and expertise to the TRA. I am grateful for their willingness to serve our citizens."

The TRA regulates and sets rates for a number of utilities, including Tennessee-American Water Co. and Chattanooga Gas.

The new law, which lawmakers passed at Haslam's urging, transformed the utility regulatory agency from a four-member, full-time board in the part-time board with an executive director.

The law took effect July 1, but Haslam said it was more important to get the appropriate people to serve than in meeting that deadline. One critic, an attorney, questioned what authority the TRA had to operate without the executive director and board.

Haslam still has one director left to appoint. Two of the full-time members on the TRA are now part-time directors. The governor said he expects the changes to immediately cut agency costs and promise future cost reductions.