The Murfreesboro Electric Department has been sold to Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corp.
The Murfreesboro City Council voted 6-1 on Thursday night to sell the municipal electric company. Councilman Ronnie Martin voted against the sale.
Under the terms of the deal, the overall price is $302 million. The city will receive a $43 million down payment at closing. As the Murfreesboro Post has reported, the down payment is coming from MED's cash on hand.
Although the council made its decision, the sale must be approved by MTEMC'S board of directors as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority.
MTEMC last week asked Sen. Majority Leader Jack Johnson to ask the Tennessee attorney general to issue an opinion on whether city residents should vote in a referendum to sell MED.
The city has claimed its charter allows the council to sell the utility without holding a referendum, but some critics have pointed to the Municipal Electric Plant Law of 1935, which addresses the sale of municipal electric utilities in part on how they were financed.
TVA told Mayor Shane McFarland on Oct. 31 that it required the attorney general's opinion on the referendum before approving the sale.
The attorney general's office has refused to comment. A spokesman for MTEMC did not answer a question on whether the opinion has been rendered.
Martin told the Murfreesboro Post last month that he did not like the way the process was handled.
“Based on what I heard (Dec. 19), I do not have sufficient justification to sell our local utility,” Martin said. “For me, I’m not crazy about the process. I still don’t understand why we think this is better. I heard justification, but not a convincing enough argument this is better for Murfreesboro. My fellow council members may disagree.”