Memphis, Light, Gas, & Water (MLGW) customers might start paying higher rates in 2018, after a Memphis City Council committee began discussion Tuesday of water, gas, and electric rate increases.
CEO of MLGW Jerry Collins, Jr. told the committee that the revenue from the increased water rates would be used to fund research on the Memphis Sands Aquifer, the source of Memphis’ drinking water.
Dr. Brian Waldron, the University of Memphis' director of the Center for Applied Earth Science and Engineering said there is currently a threat concerning the quality of water in the aquifer and that the additional funds will help the city be proactive and assess where exactly the contamination breaches, if any, are in the aquifers. He said fixing the problem now will save thousands of dollars in the future.
With a 1.05 percent increase in rates, customers would pay an additional $11 a month. Collins said this would yield close to $1 million a year of dedicated research funds.
Gas and electric rates, MLGW officials said, haven’t seen increases in a “very long time,” noting that the last electric increase was in 2004 and the last gas increase was in 2008.
Collins adds that the average utility bill for Memphis residents is about $34 less than it was 10 years ago. But, he said that stagnant rates have created a weakening financial position.
To mitigate those financial problems, the utility presented the council committee with three options to increase water, gas, and electric rates.
The options propose increasing rates over one, two, or three years.
The full council is set to vote on the increases and which option to pursue at the next meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 5.