• MLGW dealing with fallout of latest instance of massive power outages

    By: Kody Leibowitz


    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Nearly 40,000 customers were without power across Shelby County due to Wednesday’s storms.

    Less than a month ago, 27,000 customers were without power because of storms. Customers, at that time, were frustrated. 

    Rate increase proposal

    For its part, MLGW officials clamored for a rate increase to fix its decaying infrastructure.

    MLGW has pitched a rate increase since at least late 2018, but the plan – an electric rate increase – has not happened. 

    On Feb. 19, Memphis City Council voted down an electric rate increase on a 7 to 6 vote. 

    Councilmembers Frank Colvett Jr., Jamita Swearengen, Berlin Boyd, Joe Brown, Cheyenne Johnson, J. Ford Canale and Reid Hedgepeth all voted no, against the increase. 

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    Councilmembers Kemp Conrad, Sherman Greer, Patrice Robinson, Worth Morgan, Gerre Currie and Martavius Jones voted for the increase.

    Calls and emails sent for interview requests with six of the seven council members whom voted no went unreturned. 

    An executive assistant for Hedgepeth said the councilmember was out of town and not available for an interview.

    A vote or discussion on a rate increase is not expected until at least the fall when MLGW will introduce next year’s budget. 

    MLGW’s budget for this year was already accepted by city council. 

    Seventy-seven percent of the budget is just from purchasing power from TVA, spending more than $1 billion.

    For operations and maintenance, MLGW spends 14 percent combined with $39 million spent on maintenance expenses. 

    Trimming trees policy

    FOX13 found crews cleaning up and restoring power across the city of Memphis on Thursday, including in a Whitehaven neighborhood tucked away just off Elvis Presley Boulevard.

    A tree fell on a power line and a shed behind a home near Graceland Drive. Nearby that home is a heavily wooded area with trees lined near powerlines. 

    MLGW has a program to trim trees.

    A cycle goal of the program, according to MLGW’s website, is to “maintain an efficient trimming cycle working from west to east covering the entire county.”

    The purpose, per the policy, is “to communicate to customers the guidelines established to maintain the availability of utilities in a safe, reliable and cost-effective manner.”

    There are certain policies for trimming trees, which is dependent on new and old lines, per the MLGW line clearance policy.

    An issue, however, is that there apparently isn’t any money directly for tree trimming this year, according to MLGW’s 2019 budget. 

    MLGW only allocated $5,000 for tree trimming in 2018. 

    MLGW provided FOX13 with this policy on Thursday but did not answer specific questions on this policy nor on infrastructure upgrade questions.

    The Lewis Senior Center, the after-hours cooling center, located at 1188 North Parkway, will open at 7 p.m. and operate continously until further notice.

    MLGW reported they expect 90 percent of the customers without power will have it restored by midnight on Friday, June 21.

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