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MLGW News Release
MLGW to Participate in New Madrid Earthquake Conference: MLGW Video Series Highlights Preparation Efforts
March 7, 2012

Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) will participate in a conference on Friday commemorating the 200th anniversary of the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812.

The conference, which takes place on Friday, March 9 at the University Center on the University of Memphis campus, is sponsored by the West Tennessee Seismic Safety Commission and Mid-South VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters) in collaboration with Shelby County Office of Preparedness, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Cliff DeBerry, Director of Analysis, Strategy and Performance for MLGW, also serves as the Chairman of the Tennessee Seismic Safety Commission.

The New Madrid earthquake of the 1800s reshaped the Mid-South landscape in powerful ways. The earthquake involved a series of more than 2,000 shocks in five months. Five were 8.0 in magnitude. Researchers and seismologists have predicted that there is a 25 percent chance that by the year 2040 there will be another major earthquake along the New Madrid fault line.

The conference is designed to help community and faith-based organizations, along with local businesses, learn how to improve communications during or after a disaster. Organizations and businesses that are interested in collaborating with others to help strengthen our community’s resiliency are encouraged to attend. There is no cost to attend, parking is free for attendees, and breakfast and lunch will be provided at no cost. Speaker information, schedule of events, and registration can be found at

The devastation brought on by last year’s massive earthquake in Japan has increased both awareness and concern of earthquake preparedness across the globe. The subject is especially relevant to Shelby County residents, given the region’s proximity to the New Madrid fault.

For the past several years, MLGW has taken a leading role in local earthquake preparation through its proactive seismic retrofitting efforts. Seismic retrofitting is the modification of existing structures to make them more resistant to seismic activity, ground motion, or soil failure due to earthquakes. To illustrate these efforts, MLGW has produced a series of videos entitled “Structurally Sound,” that highlight the utility’s efforts to brace its system against earthquake damage to its electric, gas and water systems, as well as its facilities. A compilation video is also available.

The Structurally Sound videos can be viewed on MLGW’s YouTube channel at: Customers can also request to have a DVD mailed to their home or business by contacting MLGW at 528-4557 or e-mailing MLGW at

Since 1990, MLGW has spent nearly $81 million on seismic mitigation projects.

Some of these improvements include:

  • Improvements to water facilities include retrofits at four pumping stations to include aerator, filter, and pump buildings.
  • Installation of reservoir-mounted high service pumps at three pumping stations to negate the effect of building collapse hazards on transmission or pumping capabilities.
  • Emergency generators have been installed at six water pumping stations, with a second backup generator project currently nearing completion.
  • Anchoring of transformers and other equipment at electric substations and other areas.
  • Securing a total of $6 million in FEMA grants to help fund improvements to the electric and water systems.
  • Replacing older cast iron gas mains with polyethylene, which is more flexible and reliable.
  • Relocating critical areas such as the Customer Care Center, Commercial Resource Center and Information Technology from the Administration Building to MLGW’s Netters Business Center location on Whitten Road for business continuity.
  • Retrofitting of truck canopies at work centers to prevent damage to parked crew trucks.

“MLGW is committed to bringing safe and reliable utility services to its customers in the best and worst of conditions,” said MLGW President and CEO Jerry Collins Jr. “While no structure is ‘earthquake proof,’ MLGW continues to brace its system to help minimize the affects of such an event in the Memphis area.”


MLGW is the largest three-service public power utility in the nation, serving more than 421,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County.