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DONALD J. TRUMP

Trump’s picks for TVA board could reshape federal agency

Within the next five months, President-elect Donald Trump could appoint a majority of the board for the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s largest government-owned utility.

Three Democratic members of the board, including Chairman Joe Ritch, are leaving the board Tuesday after the Republican-controlled Senate failed last year to confirm President Barack Obama’s reappointment of the three directors, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

Combined with two additional board vacancies this year, Trump could appoint a majority of the nine-member board as soon as May 18.

Major customer groups as well as Tennessee’s Republican senators have said they support the current direction of TVA, but Trump’s opinions on the matter are less clear.

Trump, who did not speak about TVA during his presidential campaign last year, has pledged to reform how government works and repeatedly said he would revive America’s coal industry by changing some regulations on fossil fuels. He could try to use TVA to help promote more coal generation or to promote other federal energy policies.

Over the past decade, TVA has shut down or announced plans to shutter nearly half of the 59 coal-fired units the utility once operated across its seven-state region.

U.S. Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, Tennessee Republicans who voted to confirm the previous TVA board members appointed by Obama, both said they expect to work with the new Trump administration to ensure continuity in funding and leadership for the TVA.

The remaining six directors on the TVA board must meet to elect a new chair within the next 30 days. In the interim, Lynn Evans, a Memphis accountant and chair of TVA’s audit committee, will act as the board’s temporary chairwoman. She becomes the first African-American to hold the title in the agency’s 84-year history.

TVA serves more than 9 million people in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

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