TVA boasts reliability as MLGW reconsiders 80-year power partner

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There’s still no final word on Memphis Light Gas & Water’s future power partner and what it means for Memphis residents’ electricity rates.

But MLGW’s 80-year relationship with the Tennessee Valley Authority is far from over.

“Memphis is TVA’s largest customer,” city council member Martavius Jones said. “I don’t feel that they have treated Memphis as if it’s their largest customers. I’m a financial adviser. Well, when my biggest client calls me, my biggest client gets the best Christmas present compared to … the other clients, and so I don’t think that TVA has treated us in that same manner.”

Jealousy is a powerful motivator, and with MLGW now pursuing other suitors and with a lucrative contract on the line, the TVA is making it clear that it won’t be giving up on this relationship without a fight.

“If you have a project in your kitchen, where you’re going to be doing remodeling, if you go around and you talk to folks, you get the estimates, it says it’s going to cost a certain amount, and it’s going to take a certain amount of time, but how many times does it take longer, and maybe cost more?” TVA spokesperson Jeannette Mills said.

Mills spoke on WREG’s Live at 9 and said TVA doesn’t take MLGW for granted.

“TVA has had over 80-something years with Memphis and Shelby County, and during the last 20 years, we’ve been 100% reliable,” Mills said.

Reliability and cost are two big factors in the relationship.

After months of research, a consulting firm concluded MLGW could save millions if it walked away from the TVA and picked another provider.

“But also, our concern is how they analyzed it,” Mills said. “They analyzed it based on the minimal reliability standard.”

After doing their own analysis, the TVA is insisting a breakup wouldn’t save millions. They claim it would actually cost millions.

“When you think about it, that TVA has been 100% reliable over the last 20 years, there’s a potential that the reliability is going to go down,” Mills said. “Costs go up, reliability goes down.”

For it’s part, all MLGW is saying for now is the following statement: “We will ensure that Siemens considers these comments along with the others that will be received during the 30-day comment period. We will ensure that our consultant considers these comments along with the others.”

“So we’re going to have to do some work on our end to look at both sets of numbers and really try to find out which one is best for the dynamics that exist here in Memphis,” council member Jones said.

A decision could come this summer.

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