40-year-old infrastructure partially to blame for outages, MLGW says

Updated: Jul. 10, 2018 at 6:06 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - MLGW's CEO J.T. Young was before Memphis City Council members Tuesday to discuss a string of summer storms that have left parts of the city in the dark for days.

It's been a rough and busy few weeks for MLGW trying to respond to all that storm damage.

Young said the age of MLGW infrastructure is at least partly to blame for some of those outages.

"I'm trying to figure out what we need to do to sustain our system," Young said.

Tuesday, MLGW revealed that the five different rounds of storms since June 23 knocked out power to almost 70,000 customers across Shelby County.

Young said he thinks if the MLGW system was upgraded, the storm outages wouldn't be as frequent.

"When you have aged infrastructure, it is less resilient to the nature that's like storms and whatnot, so I do believe we have to have a plan to harden that system," Young said.

Young said much of the utility's infrastructure is four decades old, and electric rate increases just went into effect this month.

Young cautions no decisions are final but advised he will be back before council members this fall with a dollar figure on what it will take to beef up the county's power grid.

"For the same customers who are impacted by increased costs, those are the same customers impacted when we don't have service available, so we've got to balance those things," Young said.

MLGW said it had to replace at least 70 power poles, and the storm on June 23 required 22 crews from out of town to complete restoration.

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