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TVA chooses panel to review last month's Arctic blackouts


The Tennessee Valley Authority has appointed a panel to study the coal and natural gas failures that led to rolling blackouts last month.

The panel will include three people: Bob Corker, Joy Ditto and Mike Howard.

Bob Corker is the former U.S. senator for Tennessee and former mayor of Chattanooga. Corker held an anti-environment voting record, according to the League of Conservation Voters, during his time as a Republican senator between 2007 and 2019. He served on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Joy Ditto is the president of the American Public Power Association, which is the self-stated “voice” for not-for-profit and community-owned utilities. The association advocates on behalf of such utilities to the federal government. TVA is the nation’s largest government-owned utility.

Mike Howard is the retired CEO of the Electric Power Research Institute, which is a nonprofit that has routinely partnered with TVA on various research initiatives, like electric vehicle charging stations. The nonprofit has an office in Knoxville.

The panel will conduct a review separate from TVA’s internal review of the fossil fuel plant failures, according to TVA.

“We are conducting a comprehensive and thorough review of what happened during and after Winter Storm Elliott,” TVA said in a statement.

Tennessee Sen. Jeff Yarbo, D-Nashville, suggested that TVA was taking the right first step with ordering the review — but he added that the utility needs a plan for power that is both reliable and sustainable.

“Whether these folks are independent or not, I think it’s helpful for TVA to have outside voices,” Yarbro said. “But this is still an internal review.”