For years, Patrice J. Robinson told just about anyone who would listen of her desire to serve on the Tennessee Valley Authority Board of Directors.
She soon may get the chance.
This week President Joe Biden nominated the term-limited Memphis City Council member for the board of the utility giant that provides electricity for 153 local power companies serving 10 million people in Tennessee and parts of six surrounding states, as well as directly to 58 large industrial customers and federal installations.
“I am on cloud nine, if there’s such a thing,” said Robinson after learning of her nomination via a call from the White House.
“For about four years, I’ve been telling people that’s what I wanted to do. I asked everybody in the world, ‘How do you make that happen? Who do I need to talk to? Is there an application process?’ And I couldn’t get anybody to answer anything. And as much as I talked about it, I guess somebody, I don’t know who, got the message.”
Robinson said her long-held desire to serve on the TVA board is tied to wanting to “complete the work that I have been doing from my seat on the Memphis City Council, especially as it relates to prioritizing energy efficiency in Memphis. The Share of the Pennies program, I wrote the resolution to get that up and running, and they don’t even allow anybody else to do the Share of the Penny program anywhere in the State of Tennessee, because I’m asking the citizens of Memphis – as a contribution to the people who are less fortunate than some of us – to just give the pennies left on your utility bill to help them weatherize their homes.
“And as you see the weather and how it has changed, it is even more important. And from my seat at the city council, I knew that I couldn’t move that work any further than what I had done there to make that a difference.”
Robinson also referenced her work chairing a weatherization committee and making “sure that the other organizations in the community are doing their part, and we know what we need and we’re working together.”
Now, if she gets through Senate confirmation, Robinson said she is ready to take her interest/work “to the next level.”
In addition to having served as the Memphis City Council’s liaison for the MLGW Board of Commissioners, Robinson has served on several organizations for TVA.
If confirmed, she will bring a Memphis presence back to the board.
“But I don’t just represent MLGW, I don’t just represent Memphis. I represent our valley, and I’m really concerned about West Tennessee and all the storms that we’ve had to endure.”
Robinson added, “It’s been indeed an honor to be nominated and not just for the TVA Board, but the way they stated it, ‘To serve on the Biden-Harris Administration.’ And I would love for people to know that my role is to represent them … I’m supposed to be working for TVA, but in that representation, represent those voices so that as they share what they do and what they plan on doing, how those voices play into those decisions.”
Robinson earned a Master’s of Science from the University of Tennessee and a Bachelor’s Degree from Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis). She is a certified senior professional in human resources (SPHR) and a retired Memphis Light Gas and Water Division supervisor.
Biden’s nomination of Robinson was applauded by Tennessee’s Ninth District Congressman Steve Cohen.
“Patrice Robinson has a lifetime of experience in utility management and public service and is the ideal candidate for the TVA Board,” Cohen said in a released statement.
“I am happy to see a Memphian again appointed to the board – following the service of fellow Memphians Ron Walter, V. Lynn Evans, and Bishop William Graves – since MLGW is TVA’s largest customer. I look forward to following her stewardship of this important regional public utility.”