MLGW officials consider ending power supply relationship with TVA

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Light, Gas and Water wrapped up its series of power supply advisory team meetings as it evaluates whether to stay with the Tennessee Valley Authority. But a final decision won’t come for a few more months.

The last session was Thursday, where the committee heard a consultant’s analysis of MLGW’s future energy supply options.

“There’s still a good bit more that we have to do,” MLGW President J.T. Young said. “I tell everyone, we’re in the early fourth quarter now, but the game’s not quite over.”

Young said it will probably be mid-summer before a final decision is made on whether MLGW will stop buying power from TVA.

The MLGW power advisory team heard from a consultant Thursday with detailed analysis of  best-case scenarios that MLGW should consider in making the move, which could cost upwards of $1.5 billion to upgrade power distribution equipment 

“We’ve got to do upgrades and maybe extensions of new robust transmission lines,” Young said. “There’s environmental considerations we have to think about. We have to consider whether or not we can make sure we can acquire all the land we need to get. We think all those things are doable.”

Since the beginning, MLGW has assured customers their best interests are a priority and long-term decisions would be for the good of customers, but how will a break from TVA impact consumers? That’s a question no one can really answer.

“If we did make a change or move away from TVA, would there be any savings?” City of Memphis COO Doug McGowen said. “In other words, could everybody’s utility bill be lowered? Would we have additional funds to put into infrastructure, investments to make our local distribution system more reliable than it is today?”

Environmental members of the advisory team hope MLGW will look toward more energy-efficient ways of producing power 

“Which is a pathway out of poverty to Memphians that struggle with high energy bills, so energy lowers the cost to MLGW, it lowers customer’s bills, and it provides a lot of local jobs,” said Maggie Shober, with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “We see that as a win-win-win for the city of Memphis.”

Consultants will come back with a draft report in mid-April, followed by a 30-day period for the public to review the draft.

A final plan is expected to be ready this summer.

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