Tennessee Valley Authority juggles topmost ranks

Tennessee Valley Authority juggles topmost ranks

February 10th, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

The Tennessee Valley Authority is bringing back its former president and chief operating officer to help upgrade construction of its Watts Bar nuclear plant even as the utility phases out the job of its current president.

TVA announced Thursday that former president and nuclear chief O.J. "Ike" Zeringue will head engineering and construction at the Unit 2 reactor under construction at Watts Bar. He replaces Don Stinson, who is moving to TVA's unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Plant to lead preparation for construction there in future years.

"Ike is familiar with the Tennessee Valley Authority and has more than 30 years of experience in the nuclear power industry and in building nuclear plants," Mike Skaggs, senior vice president of nuclear construction, said in a conference call with reporters Thursday. "His background in engineering and construction at multiple nuclear construction projects gives him the background and experience we need to help complete work on Watts Bar Unit 2."

Construction of the Watts Bar Unit 2 was revived in 2007 following 22 years in which the unfinished reactor was in mothballs. But the planned $2.5 billion completion project is more than a year behind schedule and is expected to cost significantly more than originally forecast.

As part of the changes at Watts Bar, Ray Hruby, currently head of the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Alabama, will move to Watts Bar to manage project work, licensing and safety.

Zeringue retired from TVA seven years ago and was succeeded as president by Bill McCollum, who announced in December he will retire in June. TVA CEO Tom Kilgore has decided against filling McCollum's job and instead will have nuclear, fossil and transmission leaders report directly to him.

As part of the executive shakeup announced Thursday, Robert Fisher, senior vice president of TVA's fossil power generation group, has left TVA. Fisher joined TVA in 2009, but his position also is being phased out as TVA streamlines the layers of management at the top.

"We have decided that we can flatten the organization, increase some of our efficiencies, get better alignment on our key priorities around generation and energy delivery and in the end hopefully reduce costs," said Joe Hoagland, a TVA senior vice president who acts as chief of staff to Kilgore.