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MLGW president resigns; plans return to Florida

J.T. Young, president and CEO of Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division, has resigned from his position effective October 14.

MLGW announced on Friday, Sept. 23, that Young has accepted a position with Florida Power & Light, his previous employer.

No information regarding an interim president had been provided at TSD press time.

“J.T. has led MLGW with integrity, humility, and strength, with examples being the process which culminated recently in a plan to strengthen the system to reduce major outages from severe storms and the RFP process for our power supply,” said Mayor Jim Strickland.

“For all these reasons and many more, I’d like to thank J.T. for his service as the President of MLGW and to the citizens of Memphis. I know he and his family will do well back home in Pensacola.”

Young, a Florida native, joined MLGW in March 2018. His resignation comes on the heels of his Sept. 7 presentation to the MLGW Board of Commissioners recommending approval for a new contract agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

MLGW President/CEO J.T. Young delivers the news thousands had been awaiting: a troublesome boil-water advisory triggered by a storm had been lifted. (Screen capture)

Young took over the guidance of MLGW as questions emerged about the possibility of cutting ties with TVA to save customers money with a new power provider. Memphis is TVA’s largest customer and has been the only energy provider for Memphis and Shelby County for the last 80 years.

A new TVA agreement would last 20 years – a non-negotiable contract term viewed as excessive by concerned community activists, including Pearl Walker, civic engagement consultant for Memphis Has The Power.

Walker said the recommendation is “premature” given the lack of data provided to the public.

Young’s presentation was the result of findings from MLGW’s contracted research firm, GDS Associates, Inc.

GDS compared more than 20 power bids in response to MLGW’s Request for Proposals.

The numerous proposals indicate a strong interest among utility companies to serve the Memphis and Shelby County region.

MLGW opted to close bid details from the public to protect bidder privacy, which prompted questions of transparency regarding the process.

“This process has been anything but transparent,” said Justin Pearson of Memphis Community Against Pollution during a preemptive press conference on Sept. 7 prior to the MLGW board meeting.

Young cited increases in natural gas prices among suppliers as one reason for staying with TVA – he also said TVA provides the most value.

Earlier studies by Siemens Research and Development and other private research firms concluded that MLGW would save tens to hundreds of millions by changing its power supplier and adding more solar and renewable energy.

Franklin Haney Company, one of the 20+ businesses bidding on an MLGW contract, is appealing the objection to its proposal, citing concerns about TVA bias.

FHC’s owner, Franklin Haney, says his bid would save MLGW $350 million.

The MLGW Board invites public comments regarding Young’s recommendation for 30 days.

For his recommendation to become final, both the Memphis City Council and the MLGW Board would have to approve the new contract.

Young is the 11th president of MLGW, the nation’s largest three-service utility provider.

During his tenure, Young convinced the Memphis City Council to approve rate increases that will fund infrastructure improvements for MLGW’s electricity, gas and water divisions.

“J.T. Young has thoughtfully led Memphis Light, Gas and Water through difficult times with a solid understanding of the crucial role MLGW plays in our economic growth,” said Greater Memphis Chamber president and CEO, Beverly Robertson, regarding Young’s resignation.

“The Greater Memphis Chamber is grateful for his leadership as a member of our Board of Directors and our Chairman’s Circle, and for his willingness to partner with the Chamber on critical issues affecting our businesses.”


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