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BrightRidge officials back university's president nomination to TVA Board

Robert Houk • Jan 28, 2020 at 7:05 PM

BrightRidge officials said Tuesday they are pleased to hear East Tennessee State University President Brian Noland has been nominated to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board of directors.

“In think it’s excellent that we will have someone from Northeast Tennessee on the TVA board,” said BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes. “It’s good to have someone on the board that we can pick up the phone and talk to. It enhances our relationship with TVA.”

TVA is energy supplier to BrightRidge.

President Donald Trump has nominated Noland and former state House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, to TVA’s governing board. The two must be confirmed to the board by the U.S. Senate.

“Brian is a respected leader in East Tennessee, and during his tenure as president, he has helped transform Tennessee’s fourth-largest university,” U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said in a statement released Tuesday. “His administrative experience makes him the right person to help keep TVA on a good path — to continue to provide clean, cheap, reliable electricity at the lowest possible rates for homes and businesses through the seven-state Tennessee Valley region.”

Dykes said he believes Noland’s experience and leadership at ETSU are assets for his service on the TVA board.

“He is exceptionally thorough on his decision making,” Dykes said Tuesday.

BrightRidge board Chairperson B.J. King said she was “excited” to hear of Noland’s nomination to the TVA board. She said Noland’s membership on the board will “benefit the entire region.”

King also believes Noland’s nomination also “speaks to how much BrightRidge means to the region.”

Even though a lack of a quorum due to a member’s illness prevented the BrightRidge board from conducting its regular business Tuesday, members did hear an update on the public utility’s first year in the broadband business. Stacy Evans, BrightRidge’s chief broadband officer, said the broadband division has completed 85% of Phase II of its eight-stage business model.

Evans noted the utility’s broadband division was launched with a $65 million investment in March 2019, making Washington County the sixth community in United States to offer 10G services to homes.

“Our competition is not offering the same services,” Evans said.

He said BrightRidge’s broadband features:

• Residential fiber internet products as symmetrical services.

• A technology design that provides the world’s fastest internet options to East Tennessee.

• A fixed wireless network solution for broadband.

Dykes told Washington County commissioners at a similar briefing at their meeting on Monday that BrightRidge has met and in some cases exceeded its goals for the first stages of its broadband business.

“Things are moving quickly,” Dykes said.

The utility’s CEO also told commissioners that BrightRidge is in talks with Washington County School System and TVA to purchase the first electric-powered school bus in the region.

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