'Smart' reader showed MLGW customer he owed $50,000 - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

'Smart' reader showed MLGW customer he owed $50,000

(WMC-TV) - A Memphis man was outraged after his smart meter read that he owed Memphis Light, Gas and Water more than $50,000.

While some Smart Grid customers have reported occasional issues with this newest technology, Stephen Tapp never imagined a simple glitch would create such a headache.

"$50,000 some odd dollars, so I knew that wasn't right," said MLGW customer Stephen Tapp. "I got upset and called for some help."

According to MLGW, there is a glitch in Tapp's in-home display. The display communicates with Tapp's smart meter via a wireless connection. The in-home display estimates on-going power usage, but MLGW says it has no affect on his utility bill.

MLGW says Tapp's current bill is just over $100, not $50,000 as projected on his in-home display.

"It's a media nightmare. The only kind of numbers I want to see in that range is if I win the lottery," said Tapp.

The power company released a statement that said, "In Mr. Tapp's case, something in this display's internal programming is causing it to inflate his projected electric bill. We apologize for this and are working to resolve this issue."

MLGW recently proposed adding 6,000 more digital utility meters and promised no layoffs within the company in return. The Memphis City Council approved the digital meters.

But some people are opposed to the idea and say the smart meters are not very "smart" after all. Opponents say there needs to be a full investigation before they are placed in MLGW customers' homes.

"They're probably a little bit embarrassed right now. But maybe they need to be to make them get into action because it's a little bit traumatic," said Tapp.

MLGW says it has no plans for in-home displays in its future 60,000-meter expansion.

Meanwhile, MLGW customers with general billing questions or who have issues with their service can call 901-544-6549.

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