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MLGW News Release
MLGW clarifies reports regarding Edmund Ford's utility accounts: Begins internal audit of credit and cut-off policies
February 23, 2007
MLGW is responding today in regards to media reports about the utility account of Edmund Ford. A published report this morning incorrectly identified Ford as a participant in MLGW's On Track program, which provides customers with information about budgeting and energy conservation.

Ford never a participant of On Track program
On Track participants are not subject to cut-offs as long as they meet the requirements of the program. As such, a special code is used to flag the accounts of On Track participants. While Ford has never been a participant in the program, he did dispute charges on one of his three accounts. Because MLGW does not have a code in its computer billing system for disputed bills, the On Track code is sometimes used so that customers will not have their services cut off while the matter is investigated.

Ford is also working to bring his MLGW accounts current. As recently as February 14, he made more than $4,700 in payments on his accounts and has agreed to bring all accounts current within one month.

"MLGW continually works with its customers who have trouble paying their utility bills," said MLGW President and CEO Joseph Lee, III. "We offer a number of payment and assistance programs to assist these customers, including case-by-case payment arrangements. While 92 percent of our customers pay on time, there are eight percent who have difficulties. We will work with these customers."

Policies being reviewed
To that end, MLGW recently announced a new collections strategy in which delinquent accounts over $900 and/or 90 days past due would be contacted for the purpose of working out payment arrangements. This contact would primarily be made by telephone. MLGW employees in the field will not be collecting money, and normal cut-off procedures will be in effect for those who do not make arrangements with MLGW.

In addition, in January 2007, MLGW's credit operations Audit Committee approved audits of MLGW's write-offs and cut-off policies and procedures as part of the utility's 2007 internal audit plan. Originally scheduled to take place later in the year, these audits will now begin immediately. "While we believe in working with customers to find mutually-acceptable payment arrangements, the Audit Committee considered it important that we review the delinquent account/cut-off policies as potential areas for improvement," said Commissioner and Audit Committee Chair V. Lynn Evans. "These audits will give us an indication of the effectiveness and consistent application of our existing policies, and provide us with information necessary for improving them."

MLGW is the largest three-service public power utility in the nation, serving more than 420,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County with some of the lowest combined rates in the U.S.