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Utility Services

How do I open a new utility account for my business?
If your business is moving into an existing facility that already has utility connections, you can request a new account online, in person at one of our Community Offices, or by calling the Business Solutions Center. If requesting online, please give us at least 48 hours to process.

How do I close my company's utility account?
You can request disconnection of service online, in person at one of our Community Offices, or by calling the Business Solutions Center. If requesting online, please give us at least 48-hours to process.

How do I transfer my utility account from one location to another?
If your business moves from one location to another, you can request to transfer your existing account to your new location. Transfer requests can be made online, in person at one of our Community Offices, or by calling the Business Solutions Center. If requesting online, please give us at least 48-hours to process.

How do I report a power outage?
The quickest way to report a power outage is to call MLGW's automated outage reporting hotline, (901) 544-6500, and enter either your 16-digit account number or the primary telephone number associated with your company's utility account.

How do I report a street light outage?
Streetlight outages should be reported during the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. if you are reporting by phone (901) 544-6549. Please do not use the emergency line to report the outages, as this could prevent someone from reaching MLGW during a life-threatening situation. Streetlight outages can be reported 24-hours a day by using MLGW's Online Streetlight Outage Reporting form.

How do I request maintenance for my leased outdoor light?
Leased outdoor lighting maintenance can be by calling (901) 544-6549 or completing an online Leased Outdoor Lighting Maintenance request.


Billing And Payment

Can I send payment via overnight courier service?
Yes. Due to MLGW's internal mail distribution schedule, however, you should send the payment three days before the due date to ensure timely delivery and posting to your account. Send to:
     Memphis Light, Gas and Water - Accounts Payable
     220 South Main Street
     Memphis, TN 38103

I have a question about my company's MLGW bill. Who should I call?
Businesses can contact MLGW's Commercial Resource Center about billing, service requests or other information.

My bill has a charge for a "poor power factor." What is that?
Power factor is a measurement of how effectively electrical power is utilized by a piece of equipment at a customer's facility. Measured in a ratio where 100 percent is optimal, power factors below 85 % are billed according to MLGW's General Power Rate, Parts A and B. This billing component, which appears as a separate line item on your utility bill, applies only to customers who are billed for demand and is typically experienced by industrial and manufacturing users of motors, transformers and other wire-wound equipment. A power factor charge is assessed only after MLGW identifies power factor problems and notifies the customer. Customers with power factor problems may want to contact an electrician for assistance in improving the electric power effectiveness at their facility.

My bill has a charge for a "purchased gas adjustment." What is that?
The PGA stands for Purchased Gas Adjustment, which is used to collect MLGW's monthly costs of natural gas. Natural gas prices fluctuate on a regular basis, and as demand goes up, so does the price. While MLGW's base gas rates do not change, the PGA fluctuates to reflect the gas market.

Therefore, if the cost of gas in any given month is above the base MLGW rate, the difference is recovered the following month through the PGA. If the cost falls below the base rate, the difference is refunded. Since the deregulation of the gas industry, virtually all utilities that deliver gas use some form of PGA. Failure to recover these costs would result in bankruptcy for most utilities. MLGW's was established in the early 1990's by the MLGW Board and the Memphis City Council.

In order to keep customer gas costs as low as possible, MLGW pre-purchases a significant amount of gas during the summer months when prices are lower. The utility also fills its storage to capacity prior to winter. However, for a utility of MLGW's size, it is impossible to store all of its winter gas needs. In addition, it is impossible to predict how much customers will consume, since consumption is directly tied to the weather. Therefore, MLGW must purchase certain amounts of natural gas each winter.

Market gas prices fluctuate widely with demand. During winter months when demand for gas is high, costs increase. During summer months when gas use is lower, gas typically is less expensive. From 1993 through 2000, MLGW was able to buy gas at or below the base price of $2.10 MMBtu, resulting in negative or insignificant PGA fees in summer and winter months. Since 2000, the gas industry has been adjusting to unprecedented demand for summer gas usage, caused by an increase in construction of electric generation facilities using gas turbine technology and decreased gas drilling. Like MLGW, many utilities have adopted similar pricing policies to reflect fluctuating natural gas costs.

As a business, should I be charged sales tax?
MLGW taxes all customers with the exception of qualified religious and non-profit organizations that have been declared tax exempt by the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Eligible organizations can submit a copy of their official "Certificate of Exemption" to have the account's tax status updated. The certificate must contain the same name and address information as the MLGW account. If information differs, obtain a new tax form from the Tennessee Department of Revenue and send MLGW the corrected version.

Manufacturers pay sales tax based on the level of exemption designated by the Tennessee Department of Revenue. Sales taxes for energy and water vary from zero to 1.5 % depending on whether the energy or water comes in direct contact with the manufactured product. To initiate the process, send MLGW a copy of the official Tennessee Department of Revenue "Industrial Machinery Authorization Exemption Certificate" for each applicable location. The name and address information on the form must match the information on the MLGW account. If information differs, obtain a new form from the state before proceeding.

For information on tax exemption certificates, contact the State of Tennessee Sales Tax Department at 1-800-342-1003.

How am I billed for electricity? What is a demand charge?
Commercial and industrial customer electricity costs are based on three components: consumption, demand and a basic customer service charge. Consumption, measured in kWh, reflects the total actual amount of electricity used at the facility during the billing period. Demand is a power measurement, given in kilowatts (kW). Billing demand is the highest usage registered during any 30-minute period of the billing cycle.

Demand represents the maximum amount of electricity used by the customer at any time, so it is an indicator of how much capacity MLGW must have to meet customer needs. You can lower your demand by monitoring electricity usage and scheduling equipment operation to reduce periods of highest usage.

My company pays utilities on a vacant facility. How can I minimize utility costs?
Even though a building is empty, it most likely will continue to use energy based on the owner's decisions about lighting, heating and other systems.

Utility bills for commercial and industrial facilities are based on three factors: consumption, demand and a basic service charge. When you vacate a building but retain utility services at the site, it is important to consider this combination of factors to minimize the utility bill amount.

Prudent use of electricity, natural gas and water will minimize your consumption.

You may also want to examine your actual and contracted demand to determine if a lower demand would reduce your bill. If so, you may seek to obtain a new customer contract for utility services. Keep in mind, however, that temporary operation of systems - such as electric heat in the winter or even a full-scale test of building equipment - could set an actual demand that is then effective for a 12-month period.

Finally, the basic service charge is assessed as long as MLGW maintains service to the building. This flat-fee is shown as a "cost of basic service" line item in the electricity, natural gas and water sections on your bill. This amount will not change unless you terminate utility services to the building.



Rates And Contracts

Could my company be on a better rate?
When commercial customers apply for service, a utility rate is selected based on the amount of energy they expect to use. As the business matures and usage changes, it may be beneficial to switch to a different utility rate. Contact the Commercial Resource Center to request an analysis of your electric and/or natural gas contract and billing history. MLGW performs this service at no charge; energy consultants typically charge a percentage of the savings.

I was contacted by a company offering to help me lower my utility costs, but they want a share of the savings. What do you recommend?
MLGW recommends contacting the Commercial Resource Center before signing any contract or agreement with a company that wants to collect a share of potential savings. Often, MLGW can perform the same service for free - which means you keep any and all savings. Basic reviews include utility rate, contract demand, billing history and tax status.


Electric Generation And Deregulation

Who generates the electricity I buy from MLGW?
MLGW does not generate electricity, instead buying 100% of its supply from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a federal power generator. MLGW owns and operates its own transmission and distribution system, which serves more than 400,000 homes and businesses in Shelby County.

What is "green power"?
"Green power" is a term used to describe electricity that is generated from renewable sources, such as the sun, wind, or biomass. Green power is considered environmentally friendly since it does not deplete natural resources or emit pollutants during the generation process.

MLGW is currently evaluating participation in the Tennessee Valley Authority's green power program, Green Power Switch. Participation would enable MLGW customers to voluntarily pay a premium for one or more blocks of green power, which would be generated by TVA and mixed into the region's power supply.

I read something about electric industry deregulation. Do I really have a choice in who supplies my utilities?
Tennessee is not currently in a deregulated market. Current U.S. legislation allows individual states to determine whether to deregulate their electric market. In general, states with higher electric rates seem to be advancing faster than states with lower electric rates.

Deregulation focuses on the generation side of the electric industry, not the transmission and distribution side. This puts Tennessee in a unique position since all electricity distributed in the state - including that delivered by MLGW'is generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Current legislation does not require TVA, as a federal utility, to open access to its market. Until legislation changes, or TVA voluntarily deregulates its market, no other company can sell electricity to end-use customers in the region.

Despite this, MLGW has been preparing for electric industry deregulation for several years with the belief that Tennessee will see electric choice early in the 21st century. By improving operations, monitoring electricity purchase options and implementing competitive strategies, MLGW has taken steps to position itself for success in a deregulated market.

I've been approached by a company offering to sell electricity to my business at a lower price. Should I sign their contract?
No company other than MLGW can supply electricity to you at this time. Signing a power marketing contract now, before deregulation, may severely limit your options in a competitive energy market and could obligate you to pay "stranded costs" to the existing supplier when deregulation actually occurs. The smartest business decision would be to wait until Tennessee's electric industry deregulates so you can evaluate all available choices.

When such companies - often called "power marketers," "power suppliers" or "generators" - quote an electric rate, the price typically applies only to the generation of electric current. In addition, you would pay separate charges to have electric current transmitted from the generation site to your facility.


Energy Conservation

How can I reduce my utility bills?
The answers to this question are as varied as the number of businesses in Shelby County! In general, you can cut utility costs by reducing energy consumption and demand and increasing the energy efficiency of your equipment. Turn off equipment when it is not needed. Install programmable thermostats and monitoring devices to electronically control HVAC, lighting and other systems. For specific tips on how to reduce utility costs, conduct an energy audit with MLGW's Business e-Valuation.

How can I learn about new technology or get advice about energy-saving equipment for my business?
MLGW offers numerous online resources to assist you with exploration of new technology, equipment and systems. You can access our Energy Advisor for assistance with purchasing decisions, operations and maintenance tasks and basic energy measures to improve your operating costs. You can also access our Business e-Valuation tools identify specific energy improvements for your operation.