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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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What’s up with this talk about raising utility bills?

Berlin Boyd, Chairman, Memphis City Council

Memphis City Council members on Tuesday put a lot of energy into the question of whether your utility bill should go up.

“I am not for any rate increase of any kind,” Council Chairman Berlin Boyd said. “Neither are my constituents. Let’s look at possible alternatives.”

The notion of raising utility rates is being pushed by Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division. MLGW CEO Jerry Collins told council members that the utility company’s future depends on the City Council backing the rate hikes.

Here’s what’s on the discussion table:

An electric rate hike ranging from 2.3 percent over three years, 3.5 percent over two years; 7.1 percent in one year.

Gas: A 3 percent increase over three years, a 4.5 increase over two years; a 9.2 percent increase in one year.

Water: A 1.05 percent increase in 2018, generating $1 million for Memphis Sand Aquifer research.

Jerry Collins, CEO, Memphis Light Gas & Water

“It’s been 14 years since we increased electricity and gas rates,” Collins said. “Residential customers are paying $34 less than what they were 10 years ago.”

Councilwoman Janis Fullilove talked of utility customers who can barely afford to scrape together the money to pay their bills already.

“There has to be another way,” Fullilove said. “People are starving to death.”

Although MLGW has approved the rate, the council has the final say so.

Council members on Tuesday requested that Collins come back in two weeks to revisit the issue.

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