Friday, October 2, 2015

Smart Talk: Why apartment managers support smart meters

Some apartment managers have voiced their concern about smart meters to MLGW — they can’t be installed soon enough! From the standpoint of owners and managers, the updated meters will help protect their tenants and property. According to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s website, there are 250,553 occupied housing units in the Memphis metro area. One apartment manager shared, in their own words, why they think moving forward with smart meters make sense to keep families living in Memphis and Shelby County's apartment communities safe:

Smart meters would alert MLGW the minute the meter is pulled. If MLGW can notify us {apartment managers/owners} by email that the meter has been tampered with, we {could} look into the situation quickly. I believe owners and MLGW can work together to stop a very dangerous situation that occurs almost daily at multifamily properties.

We found the problem shown below because of a chance visit to a property. Our tenant shows how easy it would be to put your hand into the open meter box.

Smart meters provide apartment owners and tenants with a real solution to prevent illegal tampering and potential electrocution and fire hazards.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

MLGW Ending Relaxed Rules for Deferred Payments

As fall arrives, MLGW has ended the “relaxed rules” program for deferred payments that began to help customers in the midst of extreme summer temperatures. The program ended September 30. The "relaxed rules" for a deferred payment are the bill has to be for more than $250 and the upfront money required is 25 percent of the money owed or $250 which ever is less.

The program resulted in 671 reconnections with $649,000 setup on the deferred billing plan. Including the reconnections, 4,101 customers were setup on deferred billing, totaling $3.6 million, since July 14 when the program started.

So far, customers have paid back $219,000 on the deferred billing plan.

MLGW to Host Third Annual Solar Model Car Race

MLGW is hosting the A-Blazing Race on Friday, Oct. 23 in conjunction with the University of Memphis Herff College of Engineering E-Day. The race will be held in the college’s parking lot at the corner of Zach Curlin Street and Norriswood Avenue. The A-Blazing Race promotes MLGW’s interest in solar energy and introduces children to different engineering-related professions.

The object of the race is to design and build a vehicle that is powered strictly by solar power to compete in races with similar cars as well as to compete in a design competition. This year’s event will be divided into two divisions: grades six through eight and grades nine through 12. Teams can consist of two to eight people.

Teams will use a kit (available through MLGW) containing a solar panel and motor. Using any other ma­terials, competitors will design and build a solar-powered vehicle that will race on a 20-meter race course.

“We are excited about the A-Blazing Race being a part of the E-Day and look forward to even more students being involved,” said MLGW President and CEO Jerry Collins Jr. “It gives MLGW a wonderful opportunity to interact with local students through a fun activity and teach them about engineering and the importance of solar power.”

For more information about the A-Blazing Race, contact MLGW’s Community Relations Department at (901) 528-4820 or You can also visit the A-Blazing Race Website to register online.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Public Power Week

MLGW celebrates Public Power Week October 4-10. Public utilities deliver reliable service at the lowest rates. We exist to serve our fellow citizens with responsive service, local control, customer ownership and involvement in our communities. MLGW is the largest three-service public utility in the U.S., and a national survey shows that MLGW has the lowest combined rates of comparable utilities in the country.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Smart meters alert MLGW to operational problems, preventing large back-bills

Aging analog meters can malfunction for many reasons. Even something as simple as the sun baking off the hands on the dial, if undiscovered, could result in a back-bill.

 MLGW’s system includes more than one million meters of various sizes and ages. While MLGW tracks meter age as part of its ongoing meter replacement program, when a meter stops functioning it’s not often detected immediately.

Here’s how a stopped meter resulted in big electric charges for one customer last year —and how smart meters would have prevented the situation.

A meter reader obtained the monthly electric meter reading at the customer's home and entered it in the system. The reading was the same as the previous month’s which would seem to indicate that no electricity had been consumed. The same electric meter reading was obtained again the following month, which triggered a manual process to determine whether the analog meter had stopped working. During this time, the customer’s meter indicated zero usage—which means there were no charges for the electricity being used at the home. When the malfunctioning meter was replaced, MLGW charged the customer for previously unbilled electricity. The customer went from no charge for a false zero consumption reading to a nearly $400 bill for actual consumption which her broken meter failed to record.

With smart meters, MLGW would know almost immediately if a meter has stopped working. MLGW would be able to replace the meter and charge the customer for actual usage during each month, so the practice of back-billing would be unnecessary. Smart meters will enhance MLGW’s operations and improve customer service—and that’s smart for everyone.

ABC Trimming is Hiring

ABC Trimming, the contractor handling tree trimming service for MLGW, is hiring. Please share with your family and friends who are looking for employment. Go to Field positions pay $13.60/hour and require no experience.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Smart Talk: Smart meters will virtually eliminate estimated bills

In winter, cold weather and icy road conditions can prevent MLGW meter readers from working their routes, which results in estimated meter readings, a necessary practice that is unpopular with customers. Here is how estimated readings affected one customer—and how smart meters would have prevented her plight.

On January 15, 2015, the meter reader was unable to read the water meter due to condensation on the dial (resulting from moisture and cold temperatures), so her water bill was estimated that month. The next scheduled meter reading day, February 16, roads were icy. Out of concern for employee safety and to prevent vehicle accidents, routes were canceled. Therefore, the customer’s February bill had estimated electric, gas and water meter readings. When the weather improved in March, and MLGW read her water meter, the usage was much higher than what had been estimated over the last two months. The customer had a water leak. This resulted in a larger than expected bill, which upset the customer.

With smart meters, even if there are icy roads or cold temperatures cause condensation or there’s another weather event that would make it unsafe to travel, MLGW would be able to obtain accurate usage information—virtually eliminating estimated bills. Smart meters’ daily reporting feature would have also detected this customer’s water leak a lot sooner, allowing MLGW and the property owner opportunity to take action before a big bill accumulated. By simply logging into My Account on, cumulative and projected bill amounts, updated with each day’s smart meter readings, would be available to empower customers to manage their energy budgets, plan conservation efforts and even detect when there’s an issue like a water leak. These features make smart meters a smart idea for MLGW and customers.
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