By Jennifer Woods
TVA president Jeff Lyash recently visited Warren County to see the local power operation of McMinnville Electric System first-hand.
MES general manager and CEO Rodney Boyd welcomed Lyash who was accompanied by newly appointed chief external relations officer Jeannette Mills, general manager of TVA’s Middle Tennessee region Jimmy Allen and manager of Middle Tennessee customer service Megan Keen.
The group, along with Rodney Boyd, toured both the administrative location on Morford Street and the operations center on West Main Street, meeting with MES employees at both locations.
While visiting the operations center, Lyash described the rich history shared by TVA and local power companies in TVA’s seven-state footprint.
“TVA’s mission,” Lyash said, “is the same as it was in the 1930s which is to deliver electricity at the lowest rate feasible, to be a responsible steward of the environment by controlling the flooding of the Tennessee River and its tributaries, and to provide economic development opportunities to the region.”
He went on to discuss the difference between the public power model and investor-owned utility industry.
“We are proud to say TVA’s rates are lower than 70% of the utilities in the nation,” said Lyash. “This is a contributing factor and an attractive feature to companies when making decisions as to where to locate their next operations facility.”
The group tour finished in the customer service department where they found MES’s practice of providing one due date for all customers to be progressive in the industry. Manager of customer service Charlene Whittaker linked the success of the single due date program to the high percentage of customers who embrace the bank draft and eBill programs. The group was impressed at the level of technology offered to MES customers, especially the automated metering system and the MESPowerApp.
“Reliability is MES’s long-term objective,” said Boyd. “We can remotely read meters and if there is a problem at a residence we will know about it immediately with our automated systems and get power back on as soon as possible. Our goal is to have no more than 300 customers out of service at any time in the next five years.”