MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Recent power outages and a proposed rate increase by MLGW have become campaign issues for the candidates who want to become mayor of Memphis.
At the height of Saturday’s storm, more than 10,000 people were without electricity.
This comes as the utility company is asking for a rate increase to improve infrastructure to reduce outages.
FOX13 asked all three announced mayoral candidates how they would tackle this issue.
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How would they hold MLGW accountable, and would they support a rate increase?
Voters want whoever wins the upcoming mayor’s race to take leadership on this issue and the request for a rate increase for electricity.
Two responded – incumbent Mayor Jim Strickland and County Commissioner Tami Sawyer provided statements.
Neither candidate is in favor of rate hike for electricity.
Strickland said he is not in favor of an increase before all possible savings are pursued:
“As I've said before, I am not in favor of a rate increase before we have pursued all possible savings. In partnership with MLGW, we will study the potential savings that have now been identified in four different reports. We also will explore how those savings could allow us to upgrade MLGW's infrastructure and cut down on the frequency of power outages.” – Jim Strickland
Sawyer said she does not support a utility rate hike:
“While power outages can be a common occurrence and certainly not unique to Memphis, I believe that more could be done to better serve our citizens and decrease impact on households, particularly during times when inclement weather is anticipated. If elected Mayor, I will work together with MLGW to ensure that we maintain and implement a proactive strategy to quickly restore electricity services following any outages, weather-related or otherwise.
I am not in support of a rate hike for utility services. The current cost of utilities and the financial burden placed on many families and retirees to keep services active is an expressed concern that I am committed to addressing, not advancing.
One of the immediate priorities for our administration would be to explore options to reduce the cost of utilities. This includes the possibility of renegotiating the city’s relationship and commitment with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and also reviewing other partner options to provide electricity and clean water for Memphis residents.” - Tami Sawyer
MLGW will not have an opportunity to present a rate increase for electricity until after October 2019, which is after the mayoral election.
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