City Council votes against MLGW gas, electric rate increase

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis City Council voted against a Memphis Light, Gas and Water gas and electric rate increase at a meeting Tuesday evening.

There was a lot of back and forth during the City Council meeting.

The total amount of the increases for the average ratepayer per month was about the cost of about as much as a fancy Starbucks drink or a lunch.

Gas and electric increases combined would have been $4.24 in 2018 and $4.37 in 2019.

Several council members said they felt like they were being held hostage on this decision, but others argued this isn't a popular decision for rate hikes but updates needed to happen.

MLGW President Jerry Collins said the utility hasn't  had an electric rate increase in 14 years, and it has been 10 years since the last gas increase.

He also argued the rates are some of the lowest in the country for a large city.

The money from these rate increases would've been used to update MLGW substations and to help when storms hit, limiting the number of power outages.

WREG talked to chairwoman Patrice Robinson about the issue who explained the tough spot council members are in. She explained a little bit about the energy burden people have.

"The people we were asking to increase their bills are already using 20 percent of their utility bill, so we have to be sensitive to that. But we also want to make sure our utility company is viable when we get up in the morning and we want out lights to come on. We need reliable service, our systems are old especially in the inner city," Robinson said.

An 18 cent water fee increase was approved.

As far as what happens next is to be determined. MLGW's president says he always has a backup plan.

WREG will keep you posted with this developing story.