The Tennessee Valley Authority board returned to its full 9-member complement Wednesday when six new directors were sworn into office in Knoxville to restore the required quorum for the governing board to make decisions overseeing America's biggest public power utility.
Beth Geer of Brentwood, Tennessee; Bobby Klein of Chattanooga; Michelle Moore of Midlothian, Virginia; Bill Renick of Ashland, Mississippi; Joe Ritch of Huntsville, Alabama; and Wade White of Eddyville, Kentucky, officially assumed their roles after taking the oath of office from United States Magistrate Judge Jill E. McCook in Knoxville.
Geer, Klein and Moore were initially nominated by Biden in the spring of 2021 and re-nominated by the president in January 2022 after the U.S. Senate delayed their confirmation for the longest period since TVA adopted its current governing structure in 2004.
Renick and White were nominated by the president in June 2022, and Ritch was nominated in July 2022. All six were confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Dec. 21 following the longest board vacancies since the current TVA structure was adopted in 2004.
"We are delighted to have Beth, Bobby, Michelle, Bill, Joe and Wade join the TVA team during this challenging but exciting period," TVA Chairman Bill Kilbride said in a statement Wednesday. "They each bring diverse perspectives and experience to the board that will help guide TVA as it plans for the future while entering its 90th year of service to the region."
In addition to Kilbride of Chattanooga, the new board members will join current members Beth Harwell of Nashville and Brian Noland of Johnson City, Tennessee, at the board's next quarterly business meeting in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, on Feb. 16.
The part-time directors, who generally serve five-year terms, meet publicly every three months for quarterly board meetings to oversee the operations of TVA.
Although the new board will have a majority of directors appointed by President Joe Biden for the first time, the board members have generally avoided partisan fights among themselves and under the TVA act are required to follow the TVA mission to help promote energy, economic development and environmental stewardship in TVA's 7-state region.
The new board members include:
-- Beth Geer serves as the chief of staff to former Vice President Al Gore and participated in the Nashville Sustainability Accountability committee. She has extensive policy experience in climate change and environmental justice, having previously served in roles in the Clinton-Gore White House, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Senate.
Her nomination was opposed by U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who objected to a tweet from Geer calling her response to President Barrack Obama's State of the Union "hideous." Despite GOP opposition on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Geer was confirmed in a voice vote by the U.S. Senate shortly before Christmas.
Geer holds a degree from Middle Tennessee State University and a Public Leadership Executive Certificate from the Harvard Kennedy School Senior Managers in Government program.
Her term will expire May 18, 2026.
"TVA's history is highlighted by consistently overcoming challenges that ultimately improve the lives of more than 10 million people," Geer said in a statement. "I am honored to join a team that seeks to simultaneously work to decarbonize our energy future while keeping rates low and the power system reliable."
-- Bobby Klein is a former vice president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a role he assumed after a decades-long career as a lineman and foreman for EPB in Chattanooga. He also served as president of the Tennessee Valley Trades and Labor Council for 14 years, as well as the TVA Labor-Management Committee.
Klein is the second Chattanoogan on the TVA board -- in addition to Kilbride -- and is the first labor union leader to serve on the board. Klein served in the Tennessee Army National Guard and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
His term will expire May 18, 2026.
"From my own experience, I know that the strength of TVA is defined by the people who work there, including the more than 60% that are union-represented," Klein said in a statement.
-- Michelle Moore is the author of "Rural Renaissance" and CEO of Groundswell, a nonprofit that builds community power to reduce energy burdens and expand economic opportunity. From her roots in rural Georgia, she has worked to connect clean energy with affordability and quality of life for more than 25 years, including leading federal sustainability and infrastructure project delivery for the Obama White House. Her work is rooted in her faith and the commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself."
Moore holds a bachelor's degree from Emory University and a master's degree from Georgetown University.
Her term will expire May 18, 2026.
"I'm grateful to join the board to help carry its mission into the future by ensuring the resilient, clean, affordable power TVA is building will support its decarbonization goals and the region's growth while benefiting the people it was created to serve," Moore said in a statement.
-- Bill Renick is currently the chair of the Commission on the Future of Northeast Mississippi and previously served 13 years as the Workforce Division Directors at Three Rivers Planning and Development District. A longtime public servant, Renick has served in multiple local and state elected and appointed positions, as well as in the private sector.
His term will expire May 18, 2027.
"I've been privileged to work with many members of the TVA team over the years to bring new opportunities to northeast Mississippi," Renick said in a statement. "With the continued challenges rural communities are facing, TVA's mission remains as critical as ever, and I look forward to doing my part to serve the entire region."
-- Joe Ritch currently practices law with the firm of Dentons Sirote, PC, in Huntsville, Alabama. He also serves as chairman of the Redstone Regional Alliance and remains active in the community. He has received the Redstone Good Neighbor Award and the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award and was inducted into the Alabama Business Hall of Fame in 2021. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama System and is now a Trustee Emeritus.
Ritch holds degrees from the University of Alabama at Huntsville, Samford University and New York University.
Ritch, who previously served on the TVA board and was once TVA's chairman, will serve in his current term through May 18, 2025.
"My previous time on the TVA board provided me with the unique opportunity to experience all that TVA does to benefit the people of the region," Ritch said in a statement. "It also reinforced for me the ongoing need for TVA to do even more and I am honored to have another chance to serve."
-- Wade White completed his 12th year as Lyon County Judge Executive and is now employed with Farmers Bank and Trust Co. of Princeton and Eddyville in business development and public relations. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Kentucky Elected Official Ripple Effect. An avid supporter of recreational fishing, he led initial efforts to raise awareness about the invasive Asian carp species that threatens the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers and was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2016.
White graduated from the University of Kentucky.
His term will expire May 18, 2027.
"While serving the people of Lyon County, I've seen TVA's impact on the lives of people, in both good times and bad," White said in a statement. "Whether it is helping bring new businesses or jobs to an area or helping recover after storm damage, I am honored to be part of a TVA team that cares about the communities it serves."
-- Compiled by Dave Flessner