MLGW will not disconnect utilities for nonpayment from Shelby County residents

Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 5:59 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Summer utility bills are sky high and folks are broke.

Luckily, Memphis Light, Gas and Water officials said they can help customers make ends meet. The utility announced this week that no residential customer will have their power cut off for not paying their bill. The utility also said this is a temporary policy.

“So I expect this policy will last a couple of weeks,” said Jim West, MLGW vice president and chief customer officer. “For the time being, we have stopped disconnecting for non-payment.”  

West said the utility created this policy to help cash-strapped customers, recognizing that inflation and rising home energy costs are taking a toll on family budgets.

“Just to give them peace of mind, if only for a little while and to give anyone who’s behind on their utility bill time to make a payment or make some sort of arrangement,” he said.

MLGW leaders are critically aware the utility’s call center response time needs improvement.

“We are about 20 people short-staffed in our call center,” he acknowledged, “so we are slow to answer calls. Be patient with us, we will get to every call that’s in the cue.”

If customers need help paying their light bills, they can try reaching out to the Shelby County Community Services Agency(CSA).

CSA offers aid through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program funded by the state of Tennessee.

“The thing we’re finding now is that a lot of people don’t know they can qualify,” said CSA Community Engagement Outreach Coordinator Yulonda Rhodes. “There’s a misconception that you need to have a disconnection notice to qualify and that’s not true.”

Eligible households can get up to $1000 per program year for utility assistance. Customers can apply to CSA in person, by mail or online.

And if you can’t pay your entire bill, don’t worry, MLGW will work out a payment plan or extend your due date.

“If you’re behind on a bill, don’t be afraid, don’t be embarrassed,” West said. “That’s what we’re here for. Reach out to us because we’re here to help.”

MLGW said this policy will remain in effect for the next few weeks. They will give customers at least one week’s notice before they resume disconnections for non-payment.

MLGW said this opportunity will not apply to businesses.

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