MLGW proposing higher rates to pay for improved services

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. —  Memphis Light Gas and Water is looking to make some major upgrades that will cost major money.

WREG has obtained the budget proposal presented to the MLGW board with proposed rate increases.  It's something that makes a lot of people cringe.

The numbers show rate hikes are being considered in MLGW's proposed five-year budget plan.

Electric rates would go up 4.8 percent in 2019. Gas rates would also go up 4.8 percent. Water rates would go up 19 percent.

But electric and water would take another hit in 2021, going up 2.5 percent and another 19 percent respectively.

Over five years, MLGW documents show that the average residential customer would be paying about $16.72 more, if approved.

"I think everything is too high really,"  a resident told us.

But in a presentation to the Memphis City Council on Tuesday, MLGW's president set the stage for what's to come as he described an outdated infrastructure that causes equipment to fail and power to go out as it did last Sunday.

"We are at that point now we have got to do some things to upgrade that infrastructure,"  said MLGW President J.T. Young. "We are in the process of presenting to our board our long-range plans for those upgrades. "

He wouldn't discuss what was being proposed or the price tag attached.

But when we asked MLGW about the proposal that was presented to its board,they sent us a written statement saying:

'The budget is in recognition of the aging infrastructure we must replace to reduce power outages. Over the five years, the adjustments equate to an approximate 2 percent annual increase per year collectively for electric, gas and water.' 

But they never clarified how they came to 2 percent when their presentation clearly shows otherwise.

Those increases will equate to the utility bringing in millions of dollars in what could be the largest budget ever.

Exactly how much and where it will go is something MLGW won't say right now.

"To get better service, I would pay more if it was needed," said another resident.

"You can't get improvements without making investments.  As we look at the needs we have and making sure we have quality for our customers, we are gonna present what we think is necessary to make that happen," Young said on Tuesday.

MLGW tells us they might make some tweaks to the budget, but they won't ask for anything they don't need.

The proposal is slated to go before the MLGW board next week, and then to the Memphis City Council in the coming weeks.

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