The Look in Brief

Memphis Light, Gas and Water suspends disconnections through heat wave

By: - June 22, 2022 7:00 am
Memphis City Hall (Photo: City of Memphis Community Affairs page, Facebook)

Memphis City Hall (Photo: City of Memphis Community Affairs page, Facebook)

As Tennessee residents endure the second week of a heat wave, Memphis’ utility provider announced the agency will not suspend services for residents who fail to pay their bills. 

On Tuesday, Memphis Light, Gas and Water’s president and CEO J.T. Young addressed Memphis City Council members’  concerns and added that MLGW had already suspended disconnection services over the past week due to the high temperatures. The policy will remain until the heat wave passes, he said. 

In the meantime, MLGW is offering payment plans for residents struggling to pay expensive bills to keep their houses cool.

Councilmember Cheyenne Johnson forwarded complaints she had received from residents attempting to call MLGW’s customer service line and said that she was also unable to connect with MLGW staff. 

“I mean, I hung up,” she said.

Young acknowledged that some residents have already had their power disconnected, and on Tuesday morning more than 5,400 residents lost power after a vehicle struck an electrical pole. Energy disconnections have since been suspended. 

MLGW is currently in the process of hiring new employees after losing staff members, and Young estimated that the utility will remain understaffed until late July.

At the moment, MLGW’s automatic customer service is handling 45% of calls, Young said, and although they have experienced technology issues, the system is “back up and running.”

The Tennessee Valley Authority is responsible for making sure there’s enough energy to supply the whole city and there are currently no concerns about power outages, he reported. 

In February, Memphis residents experienced power outages after ice storms knocked out power lines, and MLGW was unable to restore power for thousands of residents for two weeks. 

“Maintaining the system under this heat is no small task but I think our crews are doing a good job to make sure everything stays on,” said Young.    

In Nashville, the Nashville Electric Service also suspended disconnection services through June 30.

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Dulce Torres Guzman
Dulce Torres Guzman

Dulce has written for the Nashville Scene and Crucero News. A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, she received the John Seigenthaler Award for Outstanding Graduate in Print Journalism in 2016. Torres Guzman is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. She enjoys the outdoors and is passionate about preserving the environment and environmental issues.