MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s not unusual for big utility companies to face public criticism. We should be more surprised when then don’t. That goes double for a company such as Memphis Light, Gas and Water, where criticism goes with the territory.
Lately, MLGW has been under additional scrutiny for its off-again, on-again plan to resume disconnecting customers who are seriously behind on their bill. I take the utility at its word that it gets no pleasure out of shutting off power to those unable to pay. Particularly with the coronavirus pandemic causing so much hardship – health wise and economically.
It would be great if MLGW simply continued the moratorium against shut-offs as a gesture of goodwill. But honestly that’s impractical. It’s not what utility companies do. The good news is, others are stepping up to fill the financial void. They include MIFA – and now the Shelby County School district is partnering with SchoolSeed to provide one-time grants to SCS families facing disconnection. The move makes sense, because SCS classes are all virtual. And as one board member said, students can’t learn if their home is dark.
The fact is, the poverty rate in Memphis means that people were struggling to pay utility bills long before COVID-19 appeared. But now, things are worse. And while we’d love to have more nobility from MLGW, let’s take advantage of what we do have – assistances from others. And that’s my point of view.