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MLGW predicts 'significantly' higher bills this winter

MLGW reported customers can expect their heating bills to increase by 20-30% during the winter months.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shelby County households that use natural gas heat will start to see a pretty big hike in their upcoming utility bills. Since there is a worldwide shortage of essential heating fuel, MLGW reported customers can expect their heating bills to increase by 20-30% during the winter months. That translates to about $15 - $25 more a month. This winter would be the highest winter gas bills customers had to pay in the last eight years. 

MLGW is reminding people about budget billing. The company's spokesperson said this would still be a great option for customers to enroll in because it allows them to pay the same amount each month. Budget Billing does not reduce their overall energy expense. It simply lets them spread out their annual energy expense over a 12-month period and let them know ahead of time what your monthly payment will be. 

MLGW also has a range of utility assistance programs. Those include: 

  • Extended Payment Plan:
    • In certain instances, MLGW may establish a repayment plan of a past due balance in addition to the regular utility bill.
  • Net Due Date Program:
    • If you are retired or on a fixed income and receive only one check at the beginning of each month, you may qualify for this plan. You may request that the net due date on your bill be delayed until after you have received your check.
  • Holiday Bill Break:
    • MLGW will defer cutoffs for nonpayment for all residential customers between December 15th and January 14th annually. Customers must have an unpaid balance of $399 or less. This new program will allow customers to have extra cash during the holidays while protecting them from getting into serious debt.

For more information about these programs, call the Memphis Light, Gas, and Water Customer Care Center at (901) 544-6549.

Additional resources available for Shelby County residents include:

Shelby County's Community Services Agency (CSA): 

Eligible households can receive up to $1000 once per program year.

  • You must be a resident of Shelby County
  • Your income must be at or below 150% (w/ 60%SMI Max) Federal Poverty Guidelines 
  • You must have an active utility account

If you have all of the above, you qualify for regular assistance. If you need emergency assistance, you have to have all of the above and one of the below must also apply to your household:

  • At least one household member is 60 years of age or over or;
  • At least one household member is 5 years of age or younger;
  • At least one household member has a disability or;
  • The household has experienced an uncontrollable circumstance

MIFA:

Mifa provides a one-time emergency utility assistance for households. 

Program requirements:

  • You must be a resident of Shelby County
  • You must be able to document a recent (within the past 90 days) crisis that has affected your ability to pay your bills 
  • You must not have received Emergency Services assistance in the past 24 months

Memphis and Shelby County ERA:

The U.S. Department of Treasury has granted a total of $28.2 million to the City of Memphis and Shelby County (including 19.6 million to the City and 8.6 to the County) to administer the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. The program will provide Shelby County residents direct financial assistance in the form of emergency rent and utility relief.  Funding for the program expires on December 31, 2021. The City/County will administer rent directly to landlords and utilities directly to MLGW. 

Program eligibility:

  1. Be residents of Shelby County, TN
    1. This includes Memphis, Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland, and Millington, TN
  2. Earn less than 80% of the Area Median Income AND one of the following:
    1. Contain one or more individuals  who have either qualified for unemployment benefits OR experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs or experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID–19) outbreak (applicant must put this in writing) OR
    2. Contain one or more individuals who can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, which may include a past due utility or rent notice or eviction notice, unsafe or unhealthy living conditions, or other evidence.

Last year, programs like MIFA were more lenient when they offered people money. Mary Hamlett with MIFA said that may not be the case this winter because they are strapped for money and need donations. She said only about 40% of MIFA's utility assistance funding is left for the rest of the year.