MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The time to pay is running out. The heat of last week is just a reminder of what life would be like without utilities.
Yet Monday was going to be the day when tens of thousands of people were going to get their MLGW services disconnected because they didn’t pay their bills. Memphis Light Gas and Water has delayed disconnecting power for three more weeks.
Memphis heat and humidity can make this city feel like Hell on Earth. Air conditioning, or a lot of electrical fans can make the summer tolerable. But tens of thousands of MLGW customers could be without electricity and water unless they start paying.
Gale Jones Carson of MLGW made the request, a request you’d probably never hear from a privately-owned utility company.
“I can’t plead or beg enough that our customers call us,” Carson said.
The company stopped disconnecting customers, affected by the pandemic, in March. At one point at least 38,000 customers hadn’t paid. That number has dropped a little, she said.
“For about six weeks,” she said, “We have worked on providing information to our customers about the various programs we have, and also about the various dollars, COVID dollars, that are available to help them pay their utility bills.”
The company was going to start disconnecting service on August 3rd, but delayed it for three weeks as customers try to figure out how to pay. They’re not the only ones hurting.
Carson said, “At one point, we (MLGW) were $20 million behind because of nonpayment. But as I mentioned, customers are coming in, they’re making payments. And when they make payments or payment arrangements they’re paying down the debt. So we will be fine.”
Click here for information about community resources offering utility assistance.