MLGW chief says power outages rising, but plan should cut them by 50%

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — MLGW’s total outage minutes were up more than 27% last year, but the utility company’s leader says a new plan should improve that.

MLGW President and CEO J.T. Young, in his second year at the helm of Memphis’ utility company, spent 20 minutes talking about its successes and what they need to improve on in what was believed to be the first-ever “State of MLGW” speech Wednesday.

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"We know the public is looking at us. We have to be accountable to them," Young said.

In 2019, MLGW's call center center handled 1.3 million calls.

Overall reliability has taken a hit since 2018, but looking ahead, officials hope there is change. 

This year, the new Memphis City council recently signed off on electric, gas and water rate hikes that will be rolled out over several years as part of a five-year-improvement plan. 

Young said the company is working to expand its tree-trimming options, and getting new equipment.

"Our baseline assumption with the plan that we have is that we will reduce by 50% the outage minutes that our customers experience," he said. "So we've got a high hurdle but we do project some improvement."

Another big issue on the horizon in 2020 is making a power supply recommendation that could see MLGW use a supplier other than TVA. The company hopes to complete a study this spring and bring a final decision to the MLGW board.

"I don't think MLGW has had a more significant decision in front of it in its history," Young said. "This one has the longest reaching potential because of the nature of this decision, and so the nature of this decision is going to be one that will have an impact for decades." 

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