In an effort to curb high energy costs burdensome on Memphis' poorest citizens, Memphians may see their utility bills rounded up to the nearest dollar next year.
If implemented, the resolution, proposed by Memphis City Council member Patrice Robinson, will automatically donate a portion of customers' bills to the city's Share The Pennies Program given they don't check a box opting out. Robinson will propose the resolution Tuesday at a committee hearing with commissioners from the Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division.
"For people who are economically disadvantaged or living at the poverty level, they spend 13 to 25 percent of their income just on utilities," Robinson said. "We have energy bills in Memphis that are higher than anywhere else in the United States."
Under the current program, only 270 people have been served over the past few years, Robinson said. If passed, there will be a six-month period for citizens to decide if they want to opt out of the program. While they will still be able to opt out after that period, customers will automatically be included should they not opt-out before it begins.
MLGW will continue limiting donations to an annual $11.88, as they currently do. Committee Member Worth Morgan, who co-sponsored the resolution, said it will help people — low-income citizens and the elderly — who can't help themselves.
"If anybody has any doubts about the need for this or the lives that will be affected, I encourage them to go around some these neighborhoods and take a look at what we're actually talking about."