Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Cooperative and the Murfreesboro Electric Department have been good neighbors for 80 years, but soon they’ll complete a merger carrying them into the future as the country’s second-largest electric co-op.

“The merger of our two utilities will drive our ability to achieve more efficiencies in operation and control costs,” said Chris Jones, president and CEO of the co-op, headquartered in Murfreesboro. “That will help stabilize rates for our consumer-members and commercial and industrial accountholders for years to come.”

The co-op and municipal utility considered merging for several years, but in 2018 the idea began to catch fire. The Murfreesboro City Council and the Middle Tennessee EMC’s elected board of directors tentatively approved the plan in January and agreed to seek approval from the Tennessee Valley Authority. The federally chartered power supplier notified officials of both utilities on June 9 of its decision to approve the merger.

“This transaction is in the best interest of the affected ratepayers, and upholds our mission to serve the people of the Valley,” said Dan Pratt, TVA vice president of customer delivery.

Under the agreement, the co-op will pay the city $302 million over 15 years. The merger adds 67,000 residential, commercial and institutional accounts to the more than 236,000 accounts served by the co-op in 11 Tennessee counties southeast of Nashville. The nation’s largest co-op system is Pedernales Electric Cooperative in Johnson City, Texas, with around 336,000 active accounts.

“MTE is an exceptional organization with incredibly strong leadership. The future benefits of the combined electric system to the ratepayers and the citizens of Murfreesboro are tremendous,” said Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland.

Final details of the merger are being worked out, but co-op officials have assured their future members that they could begin seeing benefits within months.

“Our state features some of the lowest rates and best utilities in the country,” Jones said, adding that the merger will lead to more investment in improving and maintaining the system and its technology. “We’re working hard to deliver affordable energy and great value, while also balancing out service quality, safety, innovation and, of course, community engagement.”