Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) customers will pay higher water, gas, and electric rates if the full Memphis City Council approves the increases Tuesday, Dec. 19.
The MLGW council committee voted in favor of customers’ water rates to increase by 1 percent or 18 cents per month beginning next year.
CEO of MLGW, Jerry Collins, Jr. said the additional $1 million of revenue will be used strictly for research on the Memphis Sands Aquifer, to pursue the “proper steps to ensure the quality of the aquifer’s water.”
Collins said he hopes the research will reveal any windows in the aquifer where contaminants might be able to seep in.
Similarly, the committee recommended that gas rates increase by about 9 percent over a two year period, initially costing customers about $1.62 more a month.
Collins said the increased gas rates will fund some of the utility's internal operations.
Finally, after much debate the committee voted to approve a 2.3 percent increase in electric rates over the course of three years, totalling about an additional $2.62 a month and $96.48 over the three-year period for customers.
Kelly Rayne, senior vice president of public policy at the Greater Memphis Chamber asked the committee to postpone the vote on electric increases until local manufacturing and industrial companies have had the chance to assess how the increases will affect their budget.
Rayne said large companies need time to understand the impact and give the council feedback because “it’s a big deal.”
Council member Jamita Swearingen, among the committee members that voted against the electric increase, also expressed reservations because of Memphis’ large low-income population who might not be able to afford the higher rates.
“I have a heavy heart,” Swearengen said. “That’s medication for some of my constituents. It’s very very difficult for me to support.”