Company projects and a leadership talk by the president were the focus of a recent Memphis Light, Gas and Water session detailing the public utility’s efforts for local media.

MLGW president J.T. Young said integrity, people, customers, communication, enterprise and community are the six program areas he will target as he leads the agency.

While he didn’t list safety as a program, Young, who joined MLGW in 2018 as its 11th president, said it is one of his main concerns.

“Safety is a core value, not a program,” said Young.

The projects currently in place by MLGW, such as the replacement of the lead service line and Share the Pennies, are designed to ensure that public safety is not an issue.

MLGW is replacing portions of the lead service line where leaks have been discovered. The company provides the households affected with a water filter pitcher that can be used for up to three months, after which the problem should be resolved.

Customers can view the online map showing water meter boxes that have already been inspected and meters that still need to be inspected and can request a free water testing kit if they believe they have lead in their water or if their home has lead pipes.

Another project touted for its success since 2017 is the Share the Pennies program. Last year the program raised an estimated $45,000. This year donations have topped $600,000.

The boost is linked to a change in how customers sign up to donate. Previously, customers signed up to round up ther bill to the nearest dollar. A change last January makes the round-up automtic unless customers choose not to donate.

Share the Pennies is a home weatherization grant for income-qualified MLGW customers. The grant is sponsored by MLGW and Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association and funded by other MLGW customers who choose to have their bill rounded up to the next whole dollar.

Frank Fletcher, acting customer relations manager, said the program helps those in need with home repairs, including window replacement, gas leaks and water heater repair or replacement.

“The Share the Pennies program is a direct response to the energy burden,” said Fletcher.

Those that qualify for the program can receive approximately $5,000 in assistance. Over the next two years, an additional $1 million in funding will be added through a partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Applications are online at MIFA.org/sharethepennies and will be accepted starting June 19.

(Paige N. Williams, a recent graduate of the University of Mississippi, is an MPLOY Youth Summer Experience program intern at The New Tri-State Defender.)