wo nominees for the Tennessee Valley Authority are expected to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate today, but only after the pair made an unusual commitment Monday not to vote or involve themselves with any matter involving developer Franklin L. Haney and his effort to finance TVA’s unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Plant.
Virginia Lodge, a former commissioner for Tennessee’s Department of Human Services, and Ronald Walter, a Memphis television executive, are both Democrats nominated by the White House to fill two vacant seats on TVA’s 9-member governing board. Prior to the formal nomination announcement from the White House in late August, both Lodge and Walter acknowledge they talked with Haney or his representatives, who are urging TVA to finish Bellefonte through a private funding plan.
Haney, a real estate developer who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress in 1966 and for governor in Tennessee in 1974, was one of the top donors to the 2012 re-election of President Obama and is a personal friend of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In the past four years, Haney also has spent nearly $1.5 million on lobbyists, including former Alabama Congressman Bud Cramer who is pushing Haney’s plan to privately finance the Bellefonte nuclear plant.
TVA has delayed any decision on the future of the twin-reactor Bellefonte plant in Hollywwood, Ala., even though Haney continues to urge the agency to finish the nuclear facility using a private financing scheme he claims would save TVA money and keep the utility under its debt ceiling.