Memphis Smart Meters Meeting Sparks Accusations of Lies, Communism

Memphis Smart Meters Meeting Sparks Accusations of Lies, Communism

A technology designed to streamline utility meter reading became a divisive topic, complete with accusations of communism, at a meeting about MLGW smart meters Monday night.
MEMPHIS, TN ( - Lies, confusion, and communism. Who knew a technology designed to streamline meter reading and save taxpayers money would be so divisive.

Local 24 News caught a heated exchange between a councilman and a union rep during a town hall meeting Monday night. Local Union 1288 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) employees are against smart meters. Memphis City Councilman Myron Lowery calls out the Local 1288 Assistant Business Manager, Bill Hawkins, during the meeting. Lowery says Hawkins has a smart meter but never told the union. Hawkins wasn't happy to hear that.

"I just want to talk with people with a smart meter and you said you don't have a smart meter, correct Mr. Hawkins," Councilman Lowery says at the city hall podium.

Hawkins responds, "I said I did not participate in the MLGW program."

Lowery, "Oh now he's clarifying it folks."

If smart meters are installed all across the city, 170 jobs will be lost through attrition. That's 170 union jobs. When asked if that's why the union would be upset, Hawkins replied, "The union is upset because they're getting ready to screw the customers and we're trying to stop that from happening."

Hawkins wasn't happy when Lowery called him out as a smart meter user in front of the large crowd.

"Myron that is not what you asked and you know it," Hawkins stated as he approached the podium to confront the councilman.

Myron repeats his question again, "Do you have a smart meter?"

Hawkins, "I don't have a smart meter, a smart meter was forced out of my home."

Lower responds, "Oh! Oh! Ok I think you should've told members of the union that."

Councilwoman Janis Fullilove says there is not enough information to see if smart meters are good or bad for the city so she wants a public referendum.

"I want to know why the president of MLGW is trying to hide information from citizens," she stated.

MLGW says smart meters make the company more efficient and stops crooks from stealing utilities. The smart meters are also supposed to save customers money.

Josh Spickler has been part of the smart meter pilot program for nearly 2 years. He says he's seen some savings in his utility bill since he can monitor his energy usage daily.

"They (MLGW) were getting my data anyway, they were sending someone to do it on a monthly basis. In fact since we have this gate they weren't coming and they were estimating our usage so at least now we know it's accurate," said Spickler.

Still, others aren't buying it.

"If you like communism then you need to go out and install a smart meter in your home and that's communism! Thank you," said Memphis City Councilman Joe Brown as the crowd cheered.

An MLGW representative was not at the meeting to answer questions. MLGW president says things were heated in the last meeting and didn't want to risk anyone's safety.

There are 60,000 smart meters; people have the choice to opt out. City council still has to approve $10 million MLGW needs to buy them.
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