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MLGW Plan 30% Costs Increase; Utility Assistance Loses Funding

As if high gas prices and food prices weren't enough, utility company MLGW (Memphis, Light, Gas & Water) are planning yet another spike increase in costs.

As if high gas prices and increased pricing on just about everything from food to water weren't enough, it's now been reported that MLGW (Memphis, Light, Gas & Water) are planning yet another spike in utility costs. MLGW officials say residential customers could see a 30 percent spike in the cost of natural gas this fall, according to Commercial Appeal, and that's in addition to electricity rates that have jumped 13.5 percent over last year's rates.

Even more shocking, a utility assistance program launched three months ago by the city of Memphis was shut down. Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's office released a statement saying the program, which would have provided over $2.5 million in utility assistance to Memphians struggling to pay their Memphis Light, Gas and Water bills, would no longer be funded. Suprisingly, this comes at a time when a growing number of Memphis residents who are MLGW residential customers need the exact kind of help that the program was set up to offer.

"What you see going on at the fuel pump is happening across all energy sectors, so we're seeing it in natural gas and we're also seeing it in electricity," said Laura Campbell, assistant manager of energy resources at MLGW. "Across the board, all these fuels have increased dramatically. It all comes down to supply and demand.. Demand continues growing at a steady rate and any change to the supply picture really affects price."

With the predicted 30 percent increase, the "typical" MLGW customer can now expect to pay $195 in January 2009 in comparison to $158 for natural gas in January 2008.

This will surely raise the already record high number of cutoffs in the city which according to Memphis Daily News, in May, the number of utility service disconnections for MLGW residential customers was up about 42 percent compared to the same period in 2007, and from January 1 through May 31, Memphis, Light, Gas & Water has sent out more than 411,000 residential cutoff notices.

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