MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) _ A Middle Tennessee electric cooperative is in talks to acquire the Murfreesboro Electric Department.

Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation President Chris Jones told The Daily News Journal ( that Murfreesboro is currently an island in the utility’s territory. The city is also where the corporation has its headquarters.

Jones said the utility has considered acquiring the Murfreesboro Electric Department before, but the idea recently became a priority when the utility updated its strategic plan.

He said changes in the industry toward renewables and increased energy efficiency make this a good time to combine resources.

“There is efficiency in joining together,” he said.

The Middle Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation is the nation’s largest electric cooperative in terms of sales. It serves 205,000 customers in Williamson, Wilson, Rutherford and Cannon counties.

The electric department serves 55,000 customers within city limits.

In a news release, Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland said consolidation makes sense.

“Since we are two electric systems in the same rapidly growing vicinity, we are both making major infrastructure investments _ sometimes in the same places _ to keep pace,” he said.

There is no timeline for the potential consolidation.

The last time the cooperative acquired a municipal utility was in 2000 when it paid $20.5 million for Lebanon’s electric department and agreed to spend another $10 million in infrastructure improvements.