Memphis City Council member nominated to replace TVA Chair Bill Kilbride

  photo  Contributed photo / Patrice Robinson
 
 

A Memphis City Council member who is a retired supervisor for Memphis, Light, Gas and Water has been nominated to replace Chattanoogan Bill Kilbride on the Tennessee Valley Authority board of directors.

President Joe Biden announced Monday he is nominating Patrice Robinson, of Memphis, to the TVA board to succeed Kilbride, the TVA chair whose five-year term on the utility board ends this year.

If her nomination is confirmed by the Senate, Robinson will become the only TVA director from West Tennessee and the only Black member of the nine-member panel that oversees America's biggest public power utility.

Robinson has served on the Memphis City Council since 2016 and previously served on the Shelby County Board of Education for 13 years. She chairs the council committee that oversees the city-owned utility, which is TVA's biggest customer, buying more than $1 billion a year in electricity.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, praised Robinson's experience at Memphis, Light, Gas and Water, which is one of only a handful of local power companies in the Tennessee Valley that have not signed a long-term, 20-year power purchase agreement with TVA. Cohen, a frequent critic of TVA who has urged the Memphis power company in the past to consider splitting with the federal utility, said Robinson is the "ideal candidate" for the TVA board.

"I am happy to see a Memphian again appointed to the board — following the service of fellow Memphians Ron Walter, V. Lynn Evans and Bishop William Graves — since MLGW is TVA's largest customer," Cohen said in a statement. "I look forward to following her stewardship of this important regional public utility."

Kilbride, 72, previously headed the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce after serving for nearly two decades in key leadership roles at Mohawk Industries. He was appointed in 2019 to the TVA board by then-President Donald Trump.

The TVA board will continue to have another Chattanoogan on the panel. Bobby Klein, who served as a vice president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers after a decadeslong career as a lineman and foreman with EPB of Chattanooga, joined the TVA board in January, and his term continues through 2026.

The nine-member TVA board is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The board meets in public every three months and sets policy, approves budgets and oversees TVA's operations, including the hiring and firing of the agency's CEO.

Directors of TVA were each paid $57,197 last year with the exception of the board chairman, Kilbride, who was paid $62,418, according to TVA's annual report issued last November.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee must still schedule a confirmation hearing for Robinson, and her appointment must be ratified by the full Senate.

A Memphis native and former supervisor of assessment and development at Memphis, Light, Gas and Water, Robinson was elected to the Memphis City Council in 2015. During her time on the council, Robinson started the MLGW Share the Pennies Initiative and created the Weatherization Task Force.

Robinson earned a Master of Science in technological and adult education from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and a bachelor's degree in business administration with an emphasis in personnel administration and industrial relations from Memphis State University. In May 2006, she graduated from Leadership Memphis, and in 2010, she graduated from the Memphis Leadership Academy. She has served on the boards of directors for Stars, Memphis in May, Women in Business and Hands Across Memphis Inc. She was the education chair of the Tennessee chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy and served as chair in 2011 for the Tennessee Legislative Network for the Tennessee School Board Association.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6340.