MLGW addresses common frustrations from massive power outages

Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 10:40 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2022 at 4:51 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The ice storm Feb. 3 was the fourth largest in Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) history based on peak customer outages.

Some customers were without power for up to 11 days.

“We didn’t meet the expectations that our customers had and that’s not how we want to be and as we move forward, we want to make sure we are better,” said MLGW President and CEO J.T. Young.

Tuesday, MLGW gave Memphis City Council an update on the ice storm that left over 230,000 customers in the dark and addressed some of the common complaints that Action News 5 heard while out covering the storm, issues like a downed power line on Bluebird Road that knocked out power on the Whitehaven street for five days.

“We’ve had MLGW trucks to come by to look at a broken wire that has fallen on the ground and passed it on several occasions. That has been troubling to all of us,” said resident Robert Hill on Feb. 8.

Young said crews had to follow a prioritization process.

“So, it may not be as efficient for that crew on site to really fix that because there are upstream issues still to be dealt with, but that assessment helps us to do that,” he said.

A lot of attention is on moving more power lines underground. Young said 40% of MLGW’s lines are underground but less than 10% of those underground lines are in Memphis. He said burying the lines is not the perfect solution.

“A number of those underground lines are in the process of having to be replaced as part of our five-year plan because they’re failing. We had a lot of underground services go out in this storm,” Young said.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland announced plans to create an advisory board to take a look at ways to prevent massive power outages. While that soon-to-be assembled board will be ready to go by hopefully, sometime in March, another power outage situation could head to the Mid-South this week.

While Young doesn’t expect Thursday’s potential weather to pack the same punch, plans are currently in the works.

A Memphis city councilman asked if the power company is prepared for the potential tornados expected Thursday.

While Young doesn’t expect Thursday’s potential weather to pack the same potential punch plans are currently in the works in case of any additional outages.

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