MLGW customers call 'Share the Pennies' forced charity

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Some MLGW customers are not sure their utility company should be telling them what to do with their money, despite a new program designed to do good for others.

MLGW's Share the Pennies program is intended to help with broken windows, installation, and large cracks in homes.

For widow Pam Williams, she said living without her husband means every penny counts now. That's why she is not in favor of the change to MLGW's program.

"I'm on a fixed income, my husband is deceased. He's been deceased since 2003," Williams said.

Beginning January 2018, the program will automatically round customers' bills up to the nearest dollar in order to help MLGW customers in poverty get their homes weatherized.

"So I have to struggle to balance my account out and I just feel like, you know, this is not right," Williams said.

Previously, the program was something you could choose to participate in or not.

However, MLGW said the program is still something you can choose to not participate in--you will just need to opt out of it.

Gale Jones Carson with MLGW said residents will not pay any more than about $11 a year into the program.

"So, it's not a lot of money to help our friends, our family, our neighbors, who need to have their homes weatherized," Carson said.

She said Memphis has historically been a very generous city.

Williams said giving should come from the heart and not be forced.

"I think it should be your choice of charity. What you want to give," Williams said.

Customers can notify MLGW if they want to opt out starting in July. Notification can be made in person or by phone.

MLGW said they will work with customers to refund "Share the Pennies" charges if you forget to opt out.

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