MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Light Gas and Water is making their case as to why the company is requesting more rate hikes.
The utility says they want to educate customers and they need your input.
At their last meeting, Memphis City Councilman Joe Brown said he understands the need for rate hikes to improve MLGW infrastructure.
"I know the reason you need revenue because the whole, excuse my expression, the whole damn thing is falling down," Brown said.
For months, the utility company has campaigned for an increase to fund a five-year $342 million grid modernization plan. It would cost the average customer roughly $10 a month after the first phase of the hike, then another $7 a month in phase two.
The majority of council expressed concerns about the rate hike's impact on the poor, including newly appointed councilman Sherman Greer.
"I don't want to go out and explain why we did this to someone who is looking to borrow $20 and $30 to pay their utility bill," Greer said.
"Instead of buying smart meters, I think we should have been improving our infrastructure but I will not be supporting this increase," Councilman Berlin Boyd said.
MLGW CEO and president J.T. Young reminded council members not to compare power savings to the long-term need to fix failing infrastructure.
It was Councilman Brown who then challenged President Young to explain that need to the customers.
"You got to get out there and tell people why we need this increase," Brown said.
MLGW responded and announced a public outreach campaign inviting customers to use Twitter, Facebook, and the NextDoor app to submit questions and concerns about the rate hike.
President Young will answer those questions live on Facebook February 12 at 1 p.m.
The utility will also host a series of town hall meetings starting February 11-15.
Meanwhile, the council voted to delay their decision for two weeks.
"We can certainly do band-aids and patch the system as best we can to keep the power on but we can't make improvements, so hopefully over the next several weeks we'll be able to make the case a little bit better," Young said.
The first town hall meeting will be February 11 at Bert Ferguson Community Center at 6 p.m.
Additional meetings will take place:
- Tuesday, February 12 at Glenview Community Center, 1141 S. Barksdale, at 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, February 13 at Ed Rice Community Center, 2907 N. Watkins St., at 6 p.m.
- Friday, February 15 at Whitehaven Community Center, 4318 Graceland, at 5 p.m.