City council approves new MLGW CEO

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 5:15 PM CDT|Updated: Nov. 2, 2022 at 6:53 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Memphis City Council voted to approve new Memphis Light, Gas and Water CEO Doug McGowen.

The council passed the vote 12-1, with only Chairman Martavius Jones voting against McGowen.

McGowen was selected by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland to replace the outgoing JT Young, who resigned last month.

Some council members originally opposed the selection, calling for a nationwide search for the next leader of MLGW. Instead, it will be McGowen’s position.

McGowen has served as City COO for seven years.

He told councilors his work on the city’s climate action plan, as well as the stormwater and sewer systems, contribute to his qualifications for the job.

City leaders sang his praises, including Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland.

“I think this new chapter, we’ll see that he’ll improve MLGW in their reliability, their customer service, as a partner to the city and partner to individual homeowners and businesses,” Mayor Jim Strickland said. “We’ll see improvement all around.”

McGowen also brings military discipline as a retired United States Navy Captain and the Commanding Officer at NSA Mid-South in Millington.

He served our country for 26 years.

“My number one priority is to make sure that we earn our customer’s business each and every day,” McGowen said. “That comes with a lot of requirements. I have to be sensitive of their needs. I have to make sure I have the capacity to serve their needs. I can’t just create it out of thin air. I actually have to have the resources to do that. We’re going to be very deliberate about how we make improvements.”

McGowen spoke to the city council directly in committee about why he wants to be the next CEO. He says he hopes to tackle reliability issues within the next year, ensure the utility has a sustainable electric energy supplier, tree trimming, and install LED lighting in dark and dense areas around the county and wants to add more staff.

“I feel very capable we’re going to be able to make improvements just like we did here,” McGowen said. “But again, we’ve got really good people suffering a bit of a labor shortage but we got to get the folks on board to have the capacity to make sure that we answer everybody’s issues that they have and are facing.”

McGowen is the fourth city employee to be appointed to MLGW CEO. His salary will be $320,000, the same as Young’s before his resignation.

Strickland expects McGowen to assume his new role in 15 to 30 days, or around Dec.1.

Deputy COO Chandell Ryan was appointed to McGowen’s position and will serve as Chief Operating Officer for the city.

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