MLGW battles second major outage storm in three weeks, details infrastructure upgrades

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The rumble of utility trucks is all too familiar for folks in southeast Memphis.

“It was just bad. Scary because last time the trees fell onto the houses. We were just scared that’s all,” said Juan Mendoza of Sunday’s storm.

Mendoza is among the 188,000 who lost power three weeks ago and also one of about 40,000 who lost power Sunday.

As of Monday afternoon, power was still out.

“It’s hard. We don’t have no air conditioning, nothing,” Mendoza said.

MLGW officials say they brought in more than 40 crews from other states to help Sunday.

“Strong winds, I heard a transformer blow and power went out,” Larry Evans said.

To compare, they brought 100 extra crews three weeks ago.

But two major power outages like this made WREG ask, how old is Shelby County infrastructure?

“I don’t know the exact number, but it’s old. But MLGW spends more than $13 million a year to upgrade infrastructure,” spokesperson Gale Jones Carson said.

She said those upgrades make more financial sense than moving power lines underground.

They’re installing smart meters and smart switches in utility polls, she said. Those tools help MLGW get information more quickly and can even cut down on the number of outages.

“We are in the building process right now,” she said.

Officials have said they budgeted $18 million over the next five years for the upgrades.

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