(Originally published on Times Free Press)
For the first time in nearly three years, the Tennessee Valley Authority may soon have all of its presidential appointed leaders in place to oversee America’s biggest government utility.
East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland and former Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell, nominated by President Trump to fill the two vacancies on TVA’s 9-member board, and assistant attorney general Katherine Crytzer, nominated by Trump to serve as TVA’s inspector general, gained the support of U.S. senators Tuesday during their confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The U.S. Senate is expected to confirm the nominees in time for Dr. Noland and Dr. Harwell to join the TVA board at the next board meeting in August when TVA directors will set the fiscal 2021 budget.
Both Noland and Harwell voiced support for TVA continuing to explore the next generation of nuclear power by studying the possibility of building small modular reactors in Oak Ridge, as urged by U.S. Sen. Sen. Mike Braun,R-Indiana, the chair of the Senate panel that oversees TVA. The federal utility is working with both the Department of Energy in Oak Ridge and the University of Tennessee to consider building the new smaller reactors on the Clinch River near the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
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