TVA's rate proposal gets mixed reaction from City Council members

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Tennessee Valley Authority CEO Bill Johnson visited the Bluff City on Tuesday for a meeting with Memphis City Council members.

Johnson said at the meeting that TVA needs to do more in Memphis.

TVA provides electricity to MLGW, who then passes it on to residents. MLGW is TVA's largest customer and some council members believe they should act like it.

Johnson walked away from a public meeting with city council members resolving to have a better presence in the Bluff City.

"I think we need to do a better job of paying attention over here and acting like a part of the community that we actually have a great deal of service to," Johnson said.

Council members raised an issue with a lower number of jobs created by TVA last year and dollars spent on weatherization in the area with respect to the rest of the communities that TVA serves.

"We have not because we ask not, and the fact that the council is asking and demanding that TVA provides more to our ratepayers, it's important for us to move forward," council chairman Berlin Boyd said.

Before the meeting, protesters gathered outside City Hall angry about a TVA rate change proposal that would go into effect in October 2019.

The proposal could make 12 percent of an energy bill a fixed cost, so it would not change with usage.

"We're concerned that TVA is taking part in backdoor, closed-door meetings that are going to affect the ability of our people in Memphis to pay their utility bills," Angela Garrone, energy research attorney for Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said.

However, Johnson said ultimately it's MLGW who decides how to bill their customers, not TVA.

"If Memphis Light Gas and Water doesn't want to mimic this rate in their rates, they don't have to," Johnson said.

The possibility of a fixed cost charge is a few years away and is still being discussed by the TVA board, who would have the final say on how the agency sells its power to MLGW.

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