Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation (MTEMC) President Chris Jones announced the utility has asked the City of Murfreesboro to enter talks to investigate a potential sale and consolidation of Murfreesboro Electric Department (MED) into the cooperative.
"Middle Tennessee Electric approached us with a memorandum of understanding that said, let's talk about this," Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland said. "Since we are two electric systems in the same rapidly growing vicinity, we are both making major infrastructure investments - sometimes in the same places - to keep pace."
"We have great respect for the city and MED," Jones said, "and we have long enjoyed an excellent working relationship. This conversation will be about bringing two great utilities together to make an even better one for the communities we serve. Certainly, the growth in this area presents common challenges to MTEMC and MED. No other power systems in the state are facing growing demand like we are."
The city and MTEMC will particularly look at how combining the power systems' resources and uniting service areas would reduce duplication of effort and increase efficiency.
"It makes sense to look at this," McFarland said, "not only because MED's service area is completely surrounded by MTEMC, but also because MTEMC is a long-time corporate citizen of the City of Murfreesboro."
As feasibility talks proceed, no timeline has been established for the acquisition. Both parties acknowledge due diligence in the process of discovery is the main priority. But Jones said he understands two things will be foremost on the minds of most Murfreesboro leaders and citizens electric rates and jobs.
"Not only will we need all of MED's employees to continue doing the good jobs they do," Jones said, "it's also the right thing to do to make sure all of these employees would keep their jobs and are taken care of appropriately. We would just become a larger team, and I would assure the city's citizens and MED employees that the notion of team is fundamentally important to me.
"An acquisition, itself, would not cause a rate increase. Rates would be the same the day after the acquisition, and a great advantage of such a move for all the consumers affected - existing MTEMC and MED consumers, alike - would be greater rate stability in the long term."
Middle Tennessee Electric serves 205,000 residential and business accounts and is the nation's largest electric cooperative in terms of electric sales, adding more than 6,000 accounts per year in its service territory, which includes Williamson, Wilson, Rutherford and Cannon counties. Murfreesboro Electric Department brings power to approximately 55,000 homes and businesses within the city limits.