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Expert Report Suggests Alternative Energy Plan Could Save Memphians Hundreds of Millions of Dollars

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A new study published today by Friends of the Earth found that Memphis Light, Gas and Water could save hundreds of millions of dollars for Memphis ratepayers if MLGW was to obtain its own power supply rather than continue using power from the Tennessee Valley Authority.

“City and MLGW officials should embrace and implement this opportunity to reduce the utility bills paid by Memphis ratepayers, create more local jobs and help clean the air,” said former TVA chairman David Freeman.

“Power to Memphis – Options for a Reliable, Affordable, and Greener Future,” available online at foe.org, was prepared for Friends of the Earth by the Brattle Group, a leading energy, economic and financial research group that advises major energy providers, utilities and governments around the country and across the globe.

The Brattle Report concludes that if MLGW and the City of Memphis were to exercise a clause in their contract with the TVA that allows the utility to terminate its contract in five years, the city could develop an alternative energy supply that could generate cost savings of $240-$333 million per year compared to costs incurred by Memphis under the current TVA plan. Such an alternative energy plan could also provide cleaner energy and less pollution in the air and water, steadily decarbonizing the Memphis power supply. The options studied would create fewer emissions than those associated with the TVA’s current power supply mix and be as much as 100 percent renewable supplied by 2050.

“We could have reliable, cheaper, cleaner power for customers across Memphis,” said former MLGW president Herman Morris. “Memphis has the power to become a showcase for 21st century energy that will cost less and stop polluting the air and water. We should be looking ahead and not backwards to TVA’s expensive and dirty nuclear reactors and coal fired power plants.”

Free of its contract with TVA, Memphis would be able to pursue whatever lowest-cost options it chooses. The city could develop its own power supply and that would empower Memphis to take economic development factors into consideration.

“MLGW customers deserve to know their options for cheaper bills and cleaner energy,” said Freeman. “City officials and MLGW officials need to begin the conversation now so the required five-year TVA notice process can begin sooner rather than later.”

Background:

Memphis at the Crossroads;

An Alternative Energy Plan for Memphis Could Provide Massive Savings to the Public, Decrease Pollution and Provide a Major Boost for the Economy and Profile for the City

A major new study concludes that Memphians could save hundreds of millions of dollars if the city’s utility, Memphis Light, Gas and Water, were to terminate its contract with the TVA and directly buy or generate its own power. The report also concludes that such an alternative energy plan would allow Memphis to produce its energy with significantly less pollution and with greater opportunities for economic development for the people of the city.

Under its contract with the TVA, which originally dates back to the 1930s, Memphis now buys increasingly expensive energy that comes from predominantly dirty, dangerous and expensive coal, gas and nuclear power plants. According to the Brattle analysis, under its current contract, Memphis and its utility MLGW could withdraw from its contract with the TVA by providing five-year prior notice. During those next five years, MLGW and the city would be able to develop an alternative power system that would be significantly less expensive, would draw on increasingly clean, less polluting forms of power and would provide Memphis with significant economic and development opportunities.

Key findings of the Brattle Report conclude that if Memphis were to notify the TVA in 2019 that it intends to sever its contract in 2024, the city could develop an alternative energy system that would in 2024:

  • Be as much as a third or $240-$333 million per year lower than the costs incurred by Memphis under the current TVA contract
  • Rely on significantly cleaner and safer energy sources, causing less pollution to the air and water and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Allow the city to use its electricity supply to foster local economic development

 

The Brattle Report concludes that such an alternative energy plan would place the city on a trajectory to benefit in decades to come from even cheaper and cleaner power. The report concludes that in 2050, Memphis could have an energy system relying on as much as 100 percent renewable energy at lower costs than the TVA alternative. Such a system would protect Memphis from pollution of the air and water, while stopping emissions of greenhouse gases, which must be ended to combat catastrophic climate change.

Expert contact: Damon Moglen, (202) 222-0708, dmoglen@foe.org
Communications contact: Patrick Davis, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org

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