MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis Light Gas and Water (MLGW) will resume cutting off utilities for customers who are behind on their bill starting in August.
MLGW stopped disconnecting customers who were behind on their bills on March 13 and waived all late fees starting April 3.
The utility company says they currently have 38,000 customers who are more than 19 days past due on their bill.
In total, those customers owe MLGW close to $30 million.
“That number is significantly higher than we normally have,” said Gale Jones-Carson, MLGW spokesperson.
MLGW says they will begin cutting off services again on August 3.
Before the pandemic, an average of 200 customers per week were eligible to have their services cut off.
That number has increased in the past couple months to between 1,800 to 2,000 customers per week.
“There are a number of people who are falling in this category who have never been in this category before. There are people who have never been without work or their families have never been hit financially like COVID has hit them so we understand that. So we want we work with our customers,” said Jones-Carson.
Nationwide unemployment numbers reaching the highest levels since the Great Depression in the last few months, including a 9.7 percent unemployment rate in June in Tennessee according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
WMC Action News 5 pressed MLGW on why they decided August is the right time to resume disconnecting services.
“We are trying to resume normal business operations but as we try to resume those operations, we will continue to work with our customers,” said Jones-Carson.
The utility company says they’ve expanded their payment plans and are helping customers find resources to pay their bills.
They’re asking all customers behind on payments to contact them before disconnections resume August 3.
“They must call. We will work with them on a payment plan, we do not want to cut our customers off. We are a compassionate company,” said Jones-Carson.
On their website, MLGW has information about their expanded assistance programs and links to programs related to COVID-19 available to help people pay off their utility bills.
For help with utility payments, click on the following links: