MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Light Gas & Water is cutting back trees, limbs and vegetation, which the utility says are responsible for about 60% of power outages.

MLGW started Monday in Orange Mound, and the utility plans to spend more than $228 million to get the job done.

“They have never cut it like this. So, this is one great job that they are doing today,” Orange Mound resident Otis Sims said.

Sims said he and his neighbors could not be more happy about the tree trimming. He grew up in this community, and said the tree that crews cut down Monday had given his family problems for years. 

“Especially when you have those big storms coming through, and like I said, it knocks the power out for everybody. That tree really been giving everybody problems,” Sims said.

Doug McGowen, president and CEO of MLGW, said recently that aging infrastructure, along with vegetation growth and more severe storms was causing more frequent power interruptions.

“In the last 18 months, we’ve had the same number of customer interruptions as we’ve had in the past 10 years,” he told WREG this month.

Orange Mound, in particular, has some of the lowest electrical reliability in the MLGW service area, which is why the work is beginning there.

MLGW leaders admit that vegetation management has gone largely ignored for years. They say the investment they made will not only trim trees, but also replace outdated infrastructure and add storm resilience measures.

That way, next time the wind blows or the rain starts – your power will stay on.