MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - For the last few days the electricity has flowed like wine at Clary Brown’s north Memphis house. Her utilities were shut off last February. Clary owed MLGW a lot of money, and couldn’t keep up. The heat finally forced her to take $500 and get her utilities re-connected. “I just took everything I had and just paid it,” she said. “Now I’m wondering where I’ll get the money for the rent, but God will provide.”
Memphis City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove says there are a lot of people like Clary Brown in Memphis. The heat of this summer has put them in a dangerous situation, she says. “If people are unable to pay MLGW to be re-connected what do we do,” Fullilove asked, “Do we sit back and watch them die?”
The head honchos of the city-owned utility clearly didn’t like what Fullilove was saying. Company President Jerry Collins told City Council members most companies wouldn’t do half the things MLGW does to help people with bills. “I don’t know many other utilities that have a re-connect program like we do,” Collins said.
Collins is talking about the “On-Track” program. More than five hundred MLGW customers are currently on it. The trouble with it is, you need to have money to get into the plan. If you owe more than six hundred dollars to MLGW, you can get power restored by paying them two hundred fifty dollars, and a re-connect fee. The company will work out a payment plan that can get everything taken care of in thirty six months. Fullilove says it’s a good plan, but more should be done. “This utility belongs to the people,” she said. “The first thing MLGW must do is show compassion for those who need it.”
Clary Brown says she was told to pay three different rates by MLGW officials. She doesn’t have many complaints though. When she went to the office to get her electricity turned back on, she learned she was still $33 short. Brown says MLGW employees decided to help, taking up a collection amongst themselves to give her the rest of the money. Total strangers helping her when she needed it most. It makes her cry when talking about it. “You don’t ever know where your help is going to come from when you need it,” Clary Brown says. “All my neighbors came to me. They would give me ice. They would sit outside with me. I just couldn’t take the heat any longer, but all of those people helped. You don’t think about how people are just good people,” she said, “until you need someone.”