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Memphis NAACP and TVA partner to lower utility bills

The Memphis Branch NAACP and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) rolled out a joint weatherization and energy efficiency initiative Tuesday evening to reduce utility bills significantly for all Memphis Light, Gas and Water customers.

Nearly 50 attendees came to the learn some easy, practical ways to cut utility costs through demonstrations, lessons in simple insulation fixes, and weatherization kits valued at well over $100. First Baptist Church, Broad Street in Binghampton, was the setting.

Chad Bowman with Weatherization Assistance Services for the City of Memphis Planning and Development, touted programs designed to help low-income families. Those qualifying for the in-home consultation and improvement measures are granted to households with a specific annual income and the number of persons living in the household.

The necessity of forging the partnership to help Memphians this winter to reduce their energy consumption was stated by consensus. Memphis continues to have the most disproportionate bill in the region. “Senior citizens should not have to choose between buying food and medicine, or paying their utility bill,” Bowman said.

Home Depot representatives were also on hand to show Memphis residents how to use insulation and other energy-efficient ways to save money.

Bowman said many hundreds of households need weatherization, but more contractors are needed.

“We have families waiting who qualify for weatherization improvements,” he said. “They are being prioritized according to need. There is a shortage of contractors, so if you know anyone who may be interested, we can train them.”

Frank Rapley of TVA said the 85-year-old power company works with local entities to help bring down utility costs.

“We are assisting with the local effort to winterize homes,” said Rapley. “It’s one way we try to help those who are most vulnerable.”

Another effort to alleviate the financial burden of paying utilities was undertaken by Friends of the Earth Memphis, which estimates that more than 40,000 households are in need of winterization improvement. According to this organization, Memphis families are paying more than double the national average.

The group strongly advocates more investment by TVA and MLGW into direct  weatherization projects, as well as more community organizations committing to contribute to this cause, such as the partnership of NAACP and TVA.

MLGW also touted its Share the Pennies program which rounds up a resident’s bill to the next dollar and directing the difference to  provide grants for low-income homeowners to make energy efficient repairs to reduce energy consumption. Every resident is enrolled, but the choice to opt out of the program is available.

“Our Share the Pennies program raised over $1.4 million dollars,” said Gale Jones Carson, from MLGW Communications. “TVA donated an additional $1 million, so we will be able to help a lot of families who really need our help.”

MLGW’s Holiday Bill Break program goes into effect Saturday, December 15th. All cutoffs for nonpayment will be deferred for residential customers until the new year, on January 14, 2019. The program is an annual event by MLGW. Customers must have an unpaid balance of $399 or less to qualify.

To receive a free weatherization kit, or for any questions or concerns about holiday deferment or some other matter, call MLGW at (901) 544-6549 (MLGW).

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