While talks of the possible sale of the Elizabethton Electric Department to the Johnson City Power Board have only just begun, Power Board officials are getting ready for what could be a long process as the Elizabethton City Council explores its options.
In a Thursday news release, the Power Board said it “will begin its due diligence to prepare for any forthcoming negotiations.”
Power Board Chief Public Relations Officer Robert White said that process includes evaluating the Elizabethton system and talking with Elizabethton officials to find out what they are considering selling their electrical assets for.
“So much is still in their court, so we’re really a little tentative about what we’re really going to say because it’s really not on us yet,” he said.
The sale of the Elizabethton system to the Power Board would require approval from both the Elizabethton City Council and a simple majority vote from Elizabethton voters on a referendum ballot in November.
Because so much remains up in the air, including what the price of the electric system would be, White said it’s just too early to comment on what the possible sale could mean for the Power Board.
“Until we know more specifics and details, we don’t really have a lot to say,” he said.
As negotiations are expected to continue, White said one of the things the Power Board will look at is how the sale would benefit customers of both systems. But without specifics, it’s difficult to speculate as to how it would affect everyone involved.
“We’re looking at those options and if we get down the road and decide that this is something that we think will benefit us and our customers as well as the Elizabethton Electric Department customers, then we will go into more details as to why. Until we see what they have to offer and see what it would do to affect our customers, we really can’t say,” he said.
The Johnson City Power Board serves more than 75,000 customers in the area, while the EED has a little more than 26,000 customers.
Both utilities are nonprofit municipal operations.