MLGW advisory team tackles high-stakes decision

Team tackles high-stakes decision

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - MLGW’s Power Supply Advisory Team met for the first time Tuesday, since being announced earlier this month.

The group was convened as part of the utility's first ever Integrated Resource Plan, in response to pressure from city council members and Mayor Jim Strickland.

It was also formed in the wake of numerous studies that showed MLGW could save money by switching from TVA as a power supplier.

“I think it is probably the most critical decision and the decisions that will come out of it, the process, out of the plan will be very long term decisions,” said J.T. Young, MLGW CEO and President.

Many of the members on this team said it's their job to ensure that city and county taxpayers are getting the most bang for their utility buck.

“Make sure folks understand some basic principles of how we do what we do,” said Young.

The utility will bring in a consultant to formally study risks, cost savings and switching costs MLGW could incur by altering its power source and ultimately laying out a number of scenarios.

The team of 20 will provide input but the final decision on a preferred plan sits with the utility's board and the Memphis City Council.

The group includes elected leaders, like Shelby County Commissioner Eddie Jones and environmentalists, like Dennis Lynch with the Sierra Club.

"Anything that's going to make it better in costs for our citizens, I'm all in for that," said Jones.

Lynch says Sierra Club members across the country are taking interest in the discussion here.

"It's not just an engineering and a financial decision. it's a matter of how these things are going to affect the community. Energy burden is a huge issue in Memphis and I'm going to make sure that's considered at every step of the way," said Lynch.

Beverly Robertson is head of the Greater Memphis Chamber.

She says lower power costs could have major impacts for growing existing businesses.

"The business community is very deeply engaged in this and very concerned about it. I'm glad we are at the table because so much of what is happening economically is being driven by the business community. So if this affects them positively, they have opportunities to expand," said Robertson.

It's expected the meetings will continue almost monthly throughout 2019 and into early 2020.

Now the meetings are open to the public but members of the public cannot comment at the advisory meetings.

The utility says it will seek public comment at its community meetings through the summer, to bring back to the advisory group.

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