“First, I would like to welcome Mr. Ryder to our committee. I’m looking forward to today’s discussion. As the nation’s largest public power system, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) provides power to over 9 million households across seven southern states. TVA is also tasked with conducting river and land management along the Tennessee River and supporting economic development in the Tennessee Valley.
“As a federal corporation, TVA has critical responsibilities, and the public and Congress expect the best. Sadly, not so long ago, TVA did not meet these expectations. Almost a decade ago, TVA had one of the worst environmental disasters in our nation’s history – spilling over a billion gallons of coal ash from the Kingston Fossil Plant into the local waterways. People are still suffering from the effect of this disaster today.
“After the tragic Kingston coal ash spill, I called on TVA's Board of Directors and CEO to change TVA’s culture. It was clear that, going forward, public health, public safety, conservation and transparency needed to be priorities and not afterthoughts. I pressed TVA to be on the forefront of new, clean energy, not an industry laggard. I also stressed that this culture change needed to start at the top in order to make a real difference.
“I’m happy to say that TVA has stepped up to the plate and addressed the issues I raised. In the past decade, TVA has retired its older, dirtier coal plants, invested billions in clean energy and energy efficiency technologies and kept energy costs low for the people of the Tennessee Valley. These investments have resulted in cleaner air and new economic opportunities for the people of the Tennessee Valley and surrounding areas. Today, TVA is now on track to meet federal clean air requirements and easily meet the Clean Power Plan deadlines, even if the Trump Administration decides to withdraw this critical climate regulation.
“In creating the nine-board Board of Directors for TVA, Congress was very clear that each Board member shall “confirm support for the missions of TVA,” which includes being “a national leader in technological innovation, low-cost power, and environmental stewardship.” In today’s hearing, I want to hear how Mr. Ryder, if confirmed, will support TVA’s missions and that he will continue to support TVA’s investments for a cleaner and better future. Will Mr. Ryder continue to meet the challenges I made to the Board almost a decade ago? In addition, Mr. Ryder has a long history of close ties to the Republican National Committee. I look forward to hearing how he, if confirmed, will ensure his decisions and the Board’s decision are shielded from political influence or consideration, as they should be. Again, I welcome Mr. Ryder and look forward to his answers.”