Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) will begin automatically rounding bills of its residential and commercial customers up to the next dollar beginning Jan 1 of next year for a program meant to ease the energy burden of the utility's low-income customers.
In January, the City Council resolved for MLGW to provide an opt-out option, allowing the utility to automatically round up individuals' bills unless the customer opts out.
Donations will average about an added 50 cents on each bill, capping at $11.88 each year.
The additional collected funds, which MLGW officials expect to equal up to $2.5 million, will be donated to the Share the Pennies program which funds grants for low-income homeowners who due to a combination of poverty and energy-inefficient homes, have a high energy burden, as they have to use a higher percentage of their resources to pay for things like basic heating and cooling.
The grants will be used to make energy-efficient improvements in those homes such as, fixing broken windows, replacing insulation, and repairing furnaces, which MLGW officials say will lead to less wasted energy.
Previously only available for senior or disabled customers and maxing at $1,500 per customer, the grants will now be open to all low-income customers with a new maximum of $4,000 per customer.