Trump picks 4 nominees to TVA board (1 from TN)

The White House announced today that President Donald Trump will nominate four men to fill vacancies on the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors – one each from the states of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The Tennessean is Jeffrey Smith, deputy director of operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who was promptly praised in press releases from Tennessee U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, who, WPLN advises, “still need to get to know” the other nominees.

The nominations require Senate confirmation. The White House announcement (HERE) gives no information about the nominees except name, home state and length of term.

Perhaps the most interesting is Kentucky nominee Kenneth E. Allen, who has retired from a career in the coal mining industry – most recently as chief operating officer of Armstrong Coal, a subsidiary of Armstrong Energy. TVA in recent years has moved away from reliance on coal-fired electricity generation and toward nuclear power and natural gas while Trump in his campaign pledged to try and restore health to the coal mining business.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promptly tweeted that he “commends” Trump’s “strong choice” in selecting Allen and, says the AP, otherwise cited Allen’s experience in proving “affordable and reliable energy” in the TVA region.

The other two nominees are A.D. Frazier, an executive with Atlanta-based Oak of Georgia Oak Partners, a private equity firm, and James R. Thompson III, an executive with Birmingham-based National Bank of Commerce.

Allen and Thompson are nominated to terms that will expire May 18, 2021. Frazier and Smith are nominated to terms expiring May 18, 2022.

Alexander quote: “Jeff has worked closely with TVA to support the lab’s research missions, and he understands that TVA must continue to provide low cost, clean, and reliable power for homes and businesses throughout the TVA region.”

Corker quote: “A well-qualified board of directors is critical to ensuring that TVA remains a low-cost, reliable power producer so that the Volunteer State can continue to build on its business recruitment efforts and improve the standard of living for Tennesseans… I thank President Trump for moving quickly to fill these important positions, which will allow the board to maintain a quorum and continue its important business, and I look forward to meeting with the nominees during the confirmation process.”

“I am especially pleased with the nomination of Jeff Smith, who has served our state and country incredibly well in his role as Deputy Director for Operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory… Jeff has a unique understanding of the importance of TVA, and I know he is eager to give back to the region he calls home. I am glad to recommend him to my colleagues for swift confirmation.”

Note: Dave Flessner of the Times Free Press had an article earlier this year under the headline, Trump’s picks for TVA board could reshape federal agency, that may be of interest to anyone seeking a bit of background, HERE.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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