Memphis City Council members and MLGW executives are back in Memphis, after a two-day trip to Chattanooga on the taxpayer’s dime.
Some of them flew across the state for a meeting with the Tennessee Valley Authority, which is worried MLGW might go somewhere else to buy its electricity.
The visit came after four different studies, including one paid for MLGW, concluded the utility could save hundreds of millions of dollars switching from TVA to another power source.
One of those council members who went said he’s now open to similar site visits to those possible energy company alternatives.
“Now I have a really apples-to-apples comparison,” Memphis city council member Martavius Jones said.
That’s what Jones took away, after returning from the two-day visit with TVA leaders at its Chattanooga headquarters. The group also toured the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant.
“I’m open to evaluating our options. That was my take going into it, that’s my take coming back,” Jones said.
The trip came after four separate studies in recent months contended other energy alternatives could save ratepayers. Those options included a nuclear plant in northern Alabama or MISO Energy, which serves much of the Mid-South.
“The fact that we’ve had an 80-year relationship, that means nothing to me if we can provide better value for those who live in Memphis and Shelby County,” Jones said.
Last week, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland urged the city council and MLGW leaders to study those other options seriously.
“We may want to stay with TVA, they’ve been a good partner, but we need to have a very frank and open discussion in public about those issues,” Mayor Strickland said.
MLGW would have to give TVA at least a five-year notice if it cuts ties. Jones said he’s open to visiting other energy companies.
“Nobody has presented what those up-front, capital costs would be in order to do so,” Jones said.
That council member defended flying to Chattanooga, saying it allowed him more time to conduct city of Memphis business with TVA leaders.