Electric History in Bowling Green

The history of electricity in Bowling Green dates back to 1886.  The first municipally owned power plant generated current for a carbon arc light system and later, electric trolley cars, but it did not serve residential customers at the time.  By 1894, there were 72 arc lights throughout the city.

In October 1887, the city purchased property on the corner of 8th and Kentucky streets for $150. The land would be used for a second power plant for Bowling Green.

In May of 1890, Bowling Green entered into an electric light franchise with a private company named the Bowling Green Gas Light Company.  Although the city provided its own street lighting, city residents depended on the Bowling Green Gas Light Company for commercial lighting and gas for home heating and lighting.  It soon became necessary to build a third power plant, located near the Portage Railroad between Beech and Pearl streets.

In 1898, Bowling Green Railroad Company replaced mule-drawn trollies with an electric trolley system.  By 1911, the trolley system had 6 miles of track and 10 cars.  

In 1931, the Kentucky-Tennessee Power and Light Company built a new generating plant located on Power Street adjacent to Barren River.  The new plant was one of the most modern of its time, with a plant capacity of 7,250 kilowatts.

On May 18, 1933, President Roosevelt signed the TVA Act, which established the Tennessee Valley Authority.  The Tennessee Valley Authority purchased Kentucky-Tennessee Power and Light in 1942 for $3.5 million.  The city of Bowling Green paid $730,000 for electric distribution to the city.

Also in 1942, the Electric Plant Board was formed.  Boundaries of the Electric Plant Board ran roughly from Memphis-Junction around Morgantown Road to the Jennings Creek area. It also included Barren River Road out to the Mt. Victor area on Cemetery Road, which is close to the same area BGMU serves today.  The Electric Plant Board Office was located at 1020 College Street.  At the time, there were 4,760 customers and 16 employees.

In January of 1966, the Electric Plant Board moved to a new office building located at 801 Center Street.  In 1976, the Electric Plant Board and the Water/Sewer Sanitation Commission merged to form Bowling Green Municipal Utilities.

Today, BGMU has 500 Megawatts of system transformer capacity, 28,807 customers, and approximately 100 electric employees.  BGMU serves nearly 4,100 commercial institutes.  The distribution system contains more than 327 miles of electrical lines that run underground and on poles throughout the city.  Crews are on call 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.