COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — Half of Shelby County’s six suburbs Monday night voted “yes” on a resolution telling Memphis Light Gas & Water (MLGW) to not switch power providers.
This is in anticipation of a meeting this week when the MLGW board will hear a recommendation on whether the utility should seek to buy its electricity from another source than the Tennessee Valley Authority, where it’s been buying power for over 80 years.
Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner said his primary concern is representation.
“It’s kind of like the old saying years ago about taxation without representation,” said Joyner. “It’s kind of the same thing. If our residents are paying that rate for their utility then we just feel like we ought to have some say in how it’s delivered.”
After four years of debate on whether MLGW should remain with the TVA, a decision could be on the horizon.
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Joyner said he’s comfortable sticking it out with TVA based on, “the history that we’ve got with TVA and them being a reliable, local, known entity.”
The town’s board agreed, unanimously approving a resolution saying exactly that.
Arlington and Millington did the same.
While it’s a non-binding resolution, it does give a statement from elected leaders who represent 35% of MLGW customers.
“We also hope that TVA sharpens the pencil and brings us even better service and better rates,” said Germantown Mayor Mike Palazzolo.
Palazzolo is also in favor of remaining loyal to TVA and believes there are bigger pitfalls with a move elsewhere.
“There’s a lot of risks involved in making a jump to the open market,” said the Germantown mayor. “Transmission lines and the different delivery of those services. I’m not sure if the risk meets the intended reward.”
More than 20 private companies and the TVA have provided bids for MLGW’s business; bids that MLGW has kept sealed and may reveal Thursday.
The savings to customers could be as high as 30% and the reliability argument took a hit when it was learned during Memphis’ record-breaking June that TVA bought power from a major competitor that could be a power provider directly to MLGW.
“The savings thing, the dollars have been all over the page,” replied Joyner when asked about the potential wallet savings. “From billions of dollars to millions of dollars. Until we know what the final number is it’s going to be hard for us to make a decision. As far as that’s concerned but the numbers have bounced around.”
MLGW leadership is making a recommendation on whether to keep TVA on Thursday.