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Organizations sound off on Memphis infrastructure problems

Two organizations think Memphis and MLGW should rethink their readiness plans and their power relationship

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As MLGW crews work around the clock to get Memphian's power restored, some organizations are sounding off about what needs to be done to address infrastructure problems in the future.

Tuesday, MLGW announced about 46,000 of their customers were still without power, marking day six of some people still in the dark.

"I’ve been sleeping in my car the past couple of days due to all the hotels being full," said Cecilia Seagers Ponder in East Memphis. "I couldn’t get a hotel room. I’m sleeping in the car with my dog." 

Latricea Adams runs Black Millenials for Flint which tackles environmental justice issues. They operate a remote office in Memphis. 

She says storms like Thursday's and the storm of 1994 are not going anywhere as climate change worsens.

"We really didn’t see it for a few more decades but now we’re starting to see repetitive signs of extreme weather," Adams said.

Adams said it’s up to city and county government to work with MLGW to have a better infrastructure and climate resiliency plan, not just for power but other services as well.

"I think if we can set that plan in place where we are forward thinking about all the services that are provided where it be water, gas, electricity if we can get in front of that," Adams said. "We won’t end up in these situations where we are draining our workforce."

On Monday, MLGW president JT Young said it could cost $6 billion to put the remaining 60% of above-ground power lines underground. 

RELATED: Opinion | You can take the "L" out of MLGW because there are no lights | Richard Ransom

Jim Galliland of $450 Million for Memphis thinks potential savings could come from a new power relationship away from the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Galliland argues that MLGW was not willing to do a proper RFP process until pressured by Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. He said other power companies could offer up solutions that lead to savings and wants MLGW to keep their minds open when reviewing proposals for power in Memphis.

"There were fixed limits on what ideas and technology could be introduced for generation which could limit technological innovation," Galliland said.

Galliland wants there to be more transparency in the RFP process. JT Young, MLGW president noted the company is in the process of reviewing bids that could move them away from the Tennessee Valley Authority. Those would be ready for review and a potential new candidate proposed by the spring.

Galliland also noted that underground lines are not a perfect answer because on top of the potential billion dollar cost, underground lines also do not last as long as their above ground counterparts.

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