Although Memphis Light, Gas and Water has been in existence since 1939, its parent companies started more than 100 years ago. MLGW and the services we provide have come a long way since our beginnings not long after the Civil War. The city's first utility company was the Memphis Gas Light Company, formed in 1852. It served 10,000 people and covered just three-square-miles. The city's water supply came from cisterns and the Wolf River.
Today, MLGW is the nation's largest three-service municipal utility, serving nearly 421,000 customers. Since 1939, MLGW has met the utility needs of Memphis and Shelby County residents by delivering reliable and affordable electricity, natural gas and water service.
MLGW is supplied with electricity by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a federal agency that sells electricity on a nonprofit basis. MLGW is TVA's largest customer, representing 11% of TVA's total load. There are nearly 421,000 electric customers.
Natural gas is the most popular means of residential heating in the MLGW service area. MLGW provides natural gas to nearly 320,000 of its customers in Shelby County.
Because MLGW does not drill for gas, the utility purchases natural gas from transmission companies that deliver the fuel to city gate stations. At these facilities, natural gas is measured and sold, pressure is adjusted to match the distribution system, and a chemical odorant is added.
MLGW's distribution network, which measures more than 4,650 miles in length, delivers natural gas to homes and businesses in Shelby County. When it reaches your home or business, the natural gas passes through your meter where the consumption is recorded. MLGW furnishes nearly 40 billion cubic feet to its customers each year.
Memphis water is one of the area's greatest natural resources. While other utilities obtain drinking water from surface lakes or rivers, Memphians enjoy the unique privilege of water derived from an aquifer that sits beneath Shelby County. The Memphis aquifer contains more than 100 trillion gallons of water that fell to earth as long as 2,000 years ago.
MLGW operates one of the largest artesian well systems in the world. It is through this system that MLGW taps into the aquifer and delivers water to more than 257,000 customers. MLGW operates 10 water pumping stations and more than 175 wells throughout Shelby County.
MLGW ensures the quality and safety of its water by filtering, adding chlorine, and conducting more than 38,000 tests every year.