(WMC) - MLGW President Jerry Collins confirms an internal investigation ended with seven meter readers fired and one suspended for falsifying meter readings.
He says one meter reader alone falsified 15,000 readings.
Collins says the workers were inputting meter readings in their computers without physically reading the meters, affecting 3,000 MLGW customers.
"I don't know what they were doing during the time when they should have been reading the meters," Collins.
He said there is a possibility that some customers were underpaying or overpaying. He did not readily have the routes affected as of Friday afternoon.
The MLGW workers' union, IBEW, says the investigation was a conspiracy to gain public support for Smart Meters.
Smart Meters would eventually do away with MLGW meter readers by automating meter reading remotely.
"I want the public to know MLGW meter readers are reading your meters," said Bill Hawkins, IBEW Local 1288 Assistant Business Manager. "We were told MLGW wants to bring in a $250 million bond deal to automate everyone's meter."
Memphis City Council MLGW Committee Chairman Myron Lowery wants recourse.
"We've received many complaints from citizens saying their utility bills are too high. They never see the meter reader," Lowery said. "Personally, I think they should be prosecuted. Not simply terminated, but prosecuted because they've broken the public trust."
MLGW customer Becca Bussey says her bill shows a $100 difference from last year, for no apparent reason. She just wants accuracy.
"It's frustrating because there's no consistency," she said. "I've never seen a meter reader ever ... I would feel they'd be obligated to take care of us."
Collins thinks he has a handle on the situation.
"I think we have found the problem, fixed the problem, and everything is back to normal," he said.
Meanwhile, the union launched grievance hearings to fight the firings.
As MLGW sorts through this, Lowery and Collins recommend customers keep an eye on their own meter to make sure the numbers match with your bill.