MEMPHIS,TN – When strong wind and rain pounded the Memphis-area on Monday, June 13, 2011, residents faced another huge power outage.
As many as 50,000 MLGW customers lost electricity.
To a lot of Memphis residents, it seems there are big problems on MLGW’s power grid just about any time the wind blows.
MLGW says it works as hard and fast as it can to maintain power and repair damages, but some things are beyond their control.
The problems out of their control can be summed up in one word: storms.
“We’ve seen it in Missouri, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas; it’s been a very damaging storm season.” said MLGW spokesperson, Glen Thomas.
And that has created a lot of headaches for MLGW and its customers.
“I can’t recall any time, period,” said Thomas, “like the past few months where we’ve had multiple large outages.”
In Midtown, lots of people experienced the latest of those outages.
“It was just a terrific mess,” Harbert Street resident Ron Ireland told abc24.com, “you can’t imagine what it was like. This whole area was blocked.”
The area was also without power for more than 24 hours. But overall, Ireland was satisfied with the way MLGW reacted.
“They got here early this morning,” he said, “and I’ve never seen more courteous people in my entire life; they worked like dogs.”
But, even while describing himself as a satisfied customer, Ireland hedged his bet.
“I think we get way more outages than we should have.” Ireland said.
Fellow Midtown resident Steve McCoy agreed.
“I mean it happens constantly in Midtown.” McCoy said.
Much of that can be attributed to trees.
“Any neighborhoods where you see a heavy concentration of trees, they are generally going to have more outages,” said Thomas, “trees are our number once source of outages.”
“Hardening” the system or going underground are not things that MLGW views as viable options.
“In the past 30 years we have had about $100 million in storm damages that MLGW has had to take on,” said Thomas, “compare that to the cost of putting everything underground- it’s about $3 billion.”
In other words, it’s not going to happen.
“It’s not a cost effective solution.” Thomas told abc24.com.
Everyone affected by the power outages can agree they want to keep costs down.
“I just don’t want the rates to go up,” said McCoy, “I mean, their rates are high enough.”
MLGW rates are about to increase about $3 a month per customer, starting in July.
So, despite outages and rising rates, everybody’s happy, right?
“I don’t know,” said McCoy, “when you’re without electricity, you just want electricity.”
MLGW’S Thomas also pointed out that to go underground would push up rates and disrupt other services like water and gas, which are already buried.
If you have electrical problems, you can stay connected to MLGW and receive quick responses on Twitter and Facebook.
With trees as a constant enemy, MLGW does maintain a year round trimming program, which the utility says is very effective.