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Press Release: Senate Confirms New Board Members to Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors

December 21, 2022

For Immediate Release

December 21st, 2022

Contact: Ricky Junquera, Clean Up TVA Coalition, team@cleanuptva.org 

Senate Confirms New Board Members to

Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors

Clean Up TVA Calls on Incoming Board Members to Chart Fossil Fuel-Free Future for Nation’s Largest Public Utility

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate confirmed Beth Geer, Michelle Moore, Robert Klein, William Renick, Adam Wade White, and Joe Ritch today as new members to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Board of Directors. They come on board as the federal utility initiates its final decision-making process over the retirement and replacement of the massive Cumberland coal plant with new methane gas infrastructure. At the same time, the six board members will have the opportunity to weigh in on the replacement of the Kingston coal plant.

“The Tennessee Valley Authority is meant to be governed by a board of directors who are confirmed by the Senate, not a single CEO,” said Bri Knisley, Tennessee Campaign Manager at Appalachian Voices. “These new directors have the opportunity to get TVA back on track by making decisions that are in the best interests of local communities and workers, and in-line with federal goals for the energy transition.”

These new board members sit on the sole regulatory body for TVA. They are tasked with overseeing the utility’s overall energy planning, including approving the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), a 20-year outlook for how TVA will meet future electricity demand. That process is set to begin next year and could be an opportunity for the federal utility to align its objectives with President Biden’s mandate of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035.

The board members have also historically approved new energy projects, but earlier this year previous board members delegated that authority to CEO & President Jeff Lyash. TVA recently released its final environmental impact statement for the Cumberland Fossil Plant, reiterating its support for a new gas plant and pipeline replacement. This comes after the Environmental Protection Agency issued comments recommending TVA re-analyze the climate impacts of the project and consider other alternatives, such as distributed energy.

“These new TVA board members have an enormous responsibility and they need to hit the ground running,” said Gaby Sarri-Tobar, a campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Energy Justice program. “We’re in a climate catastrophe and our country’s largest public power provider should be a model for what a just, 100% renewable energy transition looks like. Tennessee Valley residents and our entire planet are counting on the new TVA board to build a climate-resilient, democratic utility that paves the way forward.”

"This is great news and moving forward I see a historic opportunity for the board to redefine what it truly means to be a public power provider,” said Pearl Walker, Chair of the Environmental Justice Committee of the Memphis Branch of the NAACP. “TVA can and should prioritize cleaner, more affordable and renewable energy for ratepayers. As a Memphian where we have one of the highest energy burdens in the country, this would mean a lot to us, and I hope that they can revisit the dumping of coal ash not too far from my home. This new board must understand, value, and take advantage of the tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act by accelerating their production of emissions-free electricity and reach carbon free electricity by 2035 in conjunction with President Biden’s mandate."

The new board members bring a range of expertise to this New Deal-era utility. Geer is former Chief of Staff to former Vice President Al Gore, and previously served on Nashville’s Sustainability Advisory Committee. Moore is founder of Groundswell and led sustainability and infrastructure teams in the Obama Administration. Klein served as International Vice President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Renick is former Chair of the Commission on the Future of Northeast Mississippi. White served as Lyon County Judge Executive in Kentucky. Ritch is an attorney from Huntsville, Alabama and formerly served as TVA Board Chair from 2013-2017.

TVA is a federally owned corporation that generates electricity for nearly 10 million customers in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

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The Clean Up TVA coalition is committed to transforming TVA into a green utility by shutting down coal plants, preventing new fossil gas development, and accelerating a just transition to fossil fuel-free, distributed renewable, affordable and democratic energy for all communities and workers in the Tennessee Valley.