In 1973, Clyde Winters retired after serving McMinnville Electric System for 34 years as its superintendent and manager. Don Collette, a native of Rockwood, Tennessee, became the new system manager. McMinnville Electric System weathered the oil embargo and energy conservation years of the 70's and 80's offering our consumers such helpful programs as home weatherization and the heat pump program. Many of our customers took advantage of these programs to better insulate their homes and to help conserve energy. During this time, the system and the city of McMinnville experienced slow but steady growth. In 1979, the total system kWh usage reached almost 180,000,000 kWh.
In 1983, the system employees celebrated the completion of one-half million employee hours worked without a lost-time accident. And in 1991, the one million mark was surpassed. The system employees were able to complete 19 consecutive years without a lost-time accident. MES and its employees were afforded many awards and recognitions in light of this accomplishment.
In 1999, the former Willmore Ford Building, located across the street from the MES offices on Morford Street, was purchased by the System and became the Operations and Engineering headquarters for MES.
On December 31, 1999, Don Collette retired as General Manager of McMinnville Electric System after 26 years of service. Neal Cox served as Interim General Manager until May 1, 2000 when Rodney Boyd, who came from North Georgia EMC with 21 years experience in the electrical utility industry, was hired as only the third General Manager/CEO in the system's history.
In June 2001, MES became one of the state's first power systems to become both a distributor and a supplier of electrical power to the Tennessee Valley Authority. Eleven 2-megawatt diesel generators were installed at the utility's East McMinnville Substation, located in an industrial section of the city. MES contracted to provide 20 megawatts of power to TVA. The additional two megawatts of capacity is used for reserve or backup to ensure reliability. This generating facility is used during times of peak load or when power supply is short. The capacity of this facility can generate power for roughly 45% of MES's peak load and power the load for all homes in McMinnville during an energy crisis.
In 2004, McMinnville Electric System (MES) became the first municipal electric system in the United States to generate electricity using a clean burning fuel made primarily from soybeans (BioDiesel). The McMinnville BioDiesel Project was a collaborative effort among MES, the US. Department of Energy, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Stowers Caterpillar, EmeraChem, the American Public Power Association (APPA), the Tennessee Soybean Growers Association, and the University of Tennessee. To date, the BioDiesel generator has over 1,000 hours of operation and has used 187,500 gallons of 100% BioDiesel to produce 1,500,000 kilowatt hours of clean, renewable power.
In September 2012, MES installed 4 electric vehicle chargers in anticipation of the need for alternative fueling stations. The chargers were dedicated on September 25, 2012. These stations placed McMinnville on the map, literally. The coordinates of MES's charging stations are loaded into the alternative fuel stops database of the Department of Energy