Howorth says TVA board’s political diversity an asset

Published 10:54 am Wednesday, January 4, 2017

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.

TVA serves the Oxford area, and businessman and former Mayor Richard Howorth remains a member of the TVA board until 2020.

In his second term, Howorth was appointed to the TVA board by Democratic President Barack Obama 2011 and re-appointed in 2015, with nomination support from Mississippi Republican legislative leaders Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran.

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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.

Howorth said the TVA board’s political diversity has been an asset.

“When I came on the board in 2011 the board was a mix of Republican and Democratic appointees,” he said. “There was mutual ambition to fulfill TVA’s stated charter mission — low utility rates, environmental stewardship, and economic development, essentially — and to see that TVA operated effectively and efficiently.

“The experience has been similar to many of my other board experiences — people with different perspectives who occasionally disagree, but working together respectfully toward the broader common goals.”

Howorth said he looks forward to a similar future.

“(The TVA board) has been a healthy, positive experience and I have no reason now to believe that will change,” he said.

Members of the TVA board are nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate for terms of five years.

Howorth was elected mayor Oxford in 2001 and 2005 as a Democrat, but the senate confirmed his re-appointment to the TVA board by Obama, due largely to the support of Mississippi’s Republican leaders.

Howorth opened Oxford’s Square Books in 1979.

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

Trump has pledged to reform how government works and repeatedly said he would revive America’s coal industry by changing some regulations on fossil fuels.

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.