Council members spar over smart meters, compare MLGW to 'Gestapo'
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Tempers flared among Memphis City Council members toward MLGW over Smart Meters, even comparing MLGW to the Gestapo.
Some council members said the utility company is not listening to its customers.
A handful of council members said they're strong arming people into getting a smart meter.
Councilman Joe Brown compared MLGW to the Gestapo in the way they were handling the rollout.
One of those blasting MLGW President Jerry Collins on Tuesday morning was Memphis City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove.
"You are showing blatant disrespect to this council," Fullilove said.
She, and other members, said their phones were ringing off the hook with citizens upset with MLGW over smart meters that the customers did not want.
"We are being bombarded with calls from unhappy customers," council member Jamita Swearengen said.
Fullilove said it has a large impact on customers, especially elderly customers.
"Many of these elderly people don't know what to do when they say, 'I don't want them,' and they put them on anyway," Fullilove said.
In fact, arguments between councilman Joe Brown and Collins got to the point where committee chairperson Patrice Robinson had to call for order.
But, the sparring didn't end there as council members Worth Morgan and Fullilove went at it.
Controversy continues to swirl over the smart meter rollout, which started last May and is expected to last until 2020. The meters eliminate the estimation of bills, as well as the meter reader job.
MLGW said 300,000 smart meters have been installed and 10,000 people have successfully opted out.
Collins said he only knows of 5-6 cases where smart meters were inadvertently installed. But, some council members insist that number is much higher.
"Anybody who says that MLGW doesn't care about the customer is either making a really bad mistake, or they're not telling the truth," Collins said.
In December WMC Action News 5 investigators looked into problems with late bills that were related to the smart meter rollout. Collins said that happened because of a shortage of meter readers, and so more bills had to be estimated. He said billing will be back to normal this month.
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