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US Congress believes Memphians are getting a bad deal on utility bills. Here's what they had to say

Congress sent a letter to the CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the company that has been providing electricity to Memphians for over 80 years.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on Thursday asking for information about business practices that appear to be inconsistent with TVA's requirement to give low-cost power to residents of the Tennessee Valley.

Memphis Light, Gas and Water is the TVA's number one customer, and as a result, the letter said Memphians are paying too much for electricity, exceeding the national average.

"According to at least one analysis, hundreds of thousands of low-income households in Tennessee face an elevated energy burden, with some spending as much as 27 percent of their annual income on energy, while low-income residents of cities such as Memphis face some of the highest energy burdens in the nation," the letter said.

The letter also said it could save customers more money if it prioritized energy conservation, efficiency, and renewable resources. This is the same argument used by supporters of MLGW dropping its 80-year relationship with the TVA in favor of new providers. 

Studies show that such a move could save rate-payers as much as $450 million a year.

"Today's letter from the U.S. Congress to TVA validates the concerns our group has had from day one," a statement from 450 Million for Memphis said. "(The) letter is well-supported, and it highlights the issues facing trapped customers in TVA's monopoly service area."

For its part, MLGW defended its rates and suggested when people are in poverty, of course they'll pay more for energy.

"MLGW's electric rates remain among the lowest across the Tennessee Valley as well as across the nation," MLGW said. "As it pertains to the energy burden, income is a primary factor."

TVA wants MLGW to sign a no-bid 20-year contract while at the same time, the utility is receiving bids from other providers. MLGW said it will not make those bids public.

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