OUR OPINION: New directors confirmed, TVA averts special rules

By NEMS Daily Journal

The Tennessee Valley Authority, after months operating without a full board of directors and with special rules in place to operate in the absence of a board quorum, begins 2013 with a virtually full board and a new CEO on the job.
The $11 billion public utility serving all or parts of seven states, including northeast and east-central Mississippi, was the beneficiary of Senate decisions made during the intense work to approve fiscal cliff legislation.
Newly hired CEO William Johnson was on the job Wednesday, succeeding Tom Kilgore, who retired.
The Senate, without debate, confirmed four new members Tuesday, removing the probability TVA would have had to operate without a board quorum because of term expirations and lack of action on the nominees President Obama submitted in September.
TVA’s nine-member corporate board replaced a three-member, full-time board, with supporters arguing that it would be more efficient and less political than the former, original setup. That has proven only partly correct.
Johnson, a former executive with Progress Energy, will be paid $950,000 in salary and potential additional compensation of $3 million.
The Senate’s four confirmands for the board are residents of TVA states:
• Dr. Marilyn A. Brown is a professor at the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Brown is a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
• V. Lynn Evans owns V. Lynn Evans, CPA, a certified public accounting and consulting firm established in 1983. Evans also has served on the Board of Commissioners of Memphis Light, Gas, and Water Division since 2004, and served as chair of the Board from 2008 to 2009. Evans received a B.S. in Accounting from Jackson State University.
• Michael McWherter is owner and President of Central Distributors Co. and Volunteer Distributing Co., Tennessee-based beverage distribution companies, since 1989 and 1985 respectively. McWherter was the Democratic nominee in the 2010 Tennessee gubernatorial race.
• Joe H. Ritch is an attorney at the Sirote & Permutt law firm in Huntsville, Ala., where he has worked since 1982.
TVA will function better with its key positions filled, with definite energy challenges waiting to be addressed.