The U.S. Senate voted early Friday to confirm the appointment of Thomas Gilliland of Blairsville to the board of directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Gilliland, 59, was nominated last year by President Bush to fill the vacancy created when Bill Baxter of Knoxville, Tenn., resigned from the board in January 2007. Both U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss recommended Gilliland for the post.
"It’s been a long process," Gilliland said. "I appeared before Sen. Barbara Boxer’s committee on the Environment and Public Works in October and they voted me out unanimously."
Gilliland recently retired as executive vice president, secretary and general counsel for United Community Banks, based in Blairsville. Prior to joining the company in 1992, he was a partner at Hurt, Richardson, Garner, Todd and Cadenhead in Atlanta, where he represented a number of financial institutions, specializing in commercial loan transactions. Gilliland earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and a juris doctor from Emory University.
His appointment marks the first time in the 75-year history of TVA that a Georgian has been named to the board. The states of North Carolina and Virginia also have never had a representative on the TVA board. The TVA service area includes Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
The federally chartered corporation was founded in the depths of the Great Depression by the Roosevelt administration. TVA had broad responsibilities including power production, navigation, flood control, malaria prevention, reforestation and erosion control.
"The TVA has jurisdiction over power issues that are critical to Georgia although citizens of Georgia have never been represented on the TVA board," Isakson said. "This distinguished citizen of our state is extremely knowledgeable about the environmental, recreational and power resources provided by the TVA."
Gilliland said with three major reservoirs, lakes Blue Ridge, Nottely and Chatuge in Georgia, the state has good reason to be represented.
"We’ve got significant TVA assets in North Georgia and I’m honored to be the first member from here," he said.
Chambliss also supported Gilliland’s nomination.
"I am extremely pleased that the people of Georgia will have a voice on the TVA board," Chambliss said. "Tom Gilliland’s strong background and qualifications make him an ideal candidate to represent the state of Georgia."
Gilliland has an interesting tie to TVA. His father, Jason, took a job out of law school working for TVA and was sent to North Georgia to work on land acquisition for lakes Nottely and Chatuge.
Gilliland plans to take his seat on the board at the April 3 meeting of the authority.