December 3, 2021
Starkville Utilities General Manager Terry Kemp is retiring in March after a distinguished utility career spanning nearly five decades, including 11 years in his current role. The Starkville mayor and board of aldermen will launch an extensive search in the weeks ahead to find Kemp’s replacement.
Kemp became general manager of Starkville Utilities’ electric department in 2010, the same year he retired from Tennessee Valley Authority after 36 years of service. Five years later, Kemp managed a merger that centralized electric, water and sewer services under one entity and expanded his scope of responsibilities at Starkville Utilities.
“It’s been a privilege working with the Starkville Utilities team to enhance performance in a way that has met customers’ changing expectations while maintaining high levels of safety and reliability,” Kemp said. “Based on our record of responsible stewardship, along with strong support from the mayor and board of aldermen, Starkville Utilities is ideally positioned for future success.”
Under Kemp’s leadership, Starkville Utilities launched the Renew Principle, a performance-improvement initiative rooted in building stronger relationships with customers and the community. The initiative was announced last year as Starkville Utilities’ five-year capital improvement plan was proceeding on schedule and on budget.
Strategic investments have been part of Starkville Utilities’ Future FOCUS initiative to upgrade water and electric infrastructure to support customers’ long-term utility needs without significantly impacting rates. The utility’s forward-thinking approach earned the City of Starkville statewide recognition from the Mississippi Municipal League earlier this year.
In addition to water and sewer upgrades, Kemp led efforts to modernize Starkville’s electrical distribution system. This year Starkville Utilities commissioned the new southwest substation to strengthen Starkville’s power-delivery system as well as preformed system-wide upgrades on existing substations.
“Establishing a second delivery point from TVA was one of my first goals, and I take pride in the work our team has accomplished to bring state-of-the-art services and technologies to our customers,” Kemp said. “Having a proactive mindset has been an advantage in making sure our distribution system is equipped to deliver safe, reliable power for many years to come.”
Under Kemp’s leadership, Starkville Utilities also became the first utility in Mississippi to sign a TVA Green Invest agreement, which will bring the economical and environmental advantages of large-scale solar power to customers while building a more diverse energy portfolio to fuel Starkville’s growth.
A native of Winston County, Kemp graduated from Nanih Waiya High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Mississippi State University. He is a licensed professional engineer and a graduate of Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Business Advanced Leadership Program.
His professional career began with TVA’s transmission planning and engineering division in Chattanooga, Tenn., followed by a position at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama. In 1978, he moved to Tupelo, Miss., to work in TVA’s rates, contracts and power supply division. He later became general manager of TVA’s Mississippi District, a position he held until his retirement from TVA.
Kemp’s public power service includes serving on the boards of the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association, Seven States Power Corporation and North Mississippi Municipal Power Agencies. Locally, he has served as chairman of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership and was designated a Paul Harris Fellow by The Rotary Foundation.
He is married to Starkville native Cathy Springer Kemp, and they have three married children and 11 grandchildren, all Starkville residents.
“Giving back to the community through my role at Starkville Utilities has been a very rewarding experience,” Kemp said. “We’ve tackled a series of challenging projects that have improved and modernized our city’s utility systems and established a strong foundation for the future that Starkville can continue building on.”
“At the end of the day, what’s most important is our relationship with customers,” Kemp said. “The best part of my job has been serving the people of Starkville and helping support the growth and success of a community that means so much to me and my family. We are proud to call Starkville home.”
Starkville Utilities is a municipally owned and operated electric and water utility, serving more than 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville as well as the state’s largest institution of higher learning, Mississippi State University.