MLGW goes digital despite skeptics

MLGW goes digital despite skeptics

(WMC-TV) – Memphis Light, Gas and Water's budget passed through city council Tuesday.

There are water and gas rate adjustments that likely won't affect your bottom line. But some meter changes are coming down the pipe.

MLGW proposed to add 6,000 more digital utility meters and promised no layoffs. But some people are opposed to the idea.

"Smart meters are digital meters that are not read in the traditional manner. They actually communicate with us electronically," said Glenn Thomas, MLGW.

MLGW has a thousand of those meters in use right now, but some say smart meters are not smart at all.

In fact, they are met with disdain at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1288.

A smart meter showed up on Bill Hawkins door not long ago.

"You can see the meter itself, caught on fire and it burned up," said Hawkins, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. "This is all plastic and what happens is when there's a voltage surge down the line the meter's not going know that. The metal can handle that. The plastic can't."

Tuesday, MLGW proposed adding 6,000 more digital meters. If granted, they promised no staff layoffs. The city council approved 60,000 more, even after Hawkins voiced his concerns.

"There's something wrong with these meters and there needs to be a full investigation before these things are placed in MLGW customers' homes," said Hawkins.

A total of more than a million utility meters are spread throughout the county, but 60,000 is considered merely a pilot program.

MLGW says full implementation is years away, only after real-life experimentation with the smart meter.

"There's a number of advantages that they have and I think the whole industry is moving in that direction," said Thomas.

Some smart meters allow customers to keep tabs on usage.

MLGW says it is only in the planning process of rolling out the next round of smart meters.

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