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MLGW News Release
MLGW Strengthens System Against Outages
May 22, 2012

Coming off a 2011 that brought a number of significantly damaging weather events to the South, the 2012 storm season has been much kinder to utility customers in the Mid-South. Nonetheless, MLGW continues to strengthen its system against the possibility of electric outages.

Automated Switches
The Smart Grid initiative isn’t just about smart meters. MLGW is also implementing a project to install about 50 automated switches that will help to reduce the number of customers affected by a particular outage. The switches will also allow power to be automatically redirected in order to minimize an outage's effect. MLGW is targeting those circuits that have had the longest average restoration times for these automated switches.

Network Smart Grid Project
Through a cost-sharing grant from the Department of Energy under the Recovery Act, MLGW is implementing communication and equipment upgrades to its electric distribution system beneath the streets of Downtown Memphis and the Medical Center. Crews are now installing conduit, wiring, and the devices that will give greater intelligence to our power distribution equipment on the network, with information being reported back to our control system. When the 500 transformers of the network are connected together, MLGW will have one of the most advanced and efficient systems in the world.

Strengthening Electric Service to Critical Facilities
MLGW routinely analyzes its services to critical facilities such as hospitals, and implements changes to both lessen the possibility of outages, as well as shorten possible outage durations. MLGW recently made system and equipment improvements to Methodist South Hospital, Methodist North Hospital, Sheahan Water Pumping Station, and the city’s wastewater treatment plants.

Line Inspections
MLGW has a dedicated line inspector, who is in the field every day working to identify possible issues with the utility’s electric lines. Any time there is a circuit outage in MLGW’s system, a report is run. For those circuits that have experienced the most frequent outages, the MLGW line inspector performs a pole-by-pole inspection in order to identify potential repairs.

Tree Trimming
Tree-related damage is the top cause of outages for MLGW. As a result, MLGW has an ongoing tree trimming program in order to lessen this possibility. Tree trimming is the second largest expenditure in the electric division. More information can be found at

Utility Pole Inspection
MLGW utilizes a contractor, Osmose, to inspect wooden poles throughout the city and report those that are showing signs of rot or significant damage. MLGW crews can quickly respond to these reports in order to replace damaged poles. Between 30,000-40,000 poles are inspected each year. MLGW has approximately 150,000 wooden poles in its distribution system.

Increased Spending on Cable Replacement
MLGW has increased its budget for cable retrofitting, which involves replacing older underground cable with newer, more reliable cable.

“MLGW’s electric system held up extremely well during a difficult year of storms in 2011,” said MLGW President and CEO Jerry Collins Jr. “However, we are continually working to reduce the frequency and duration of outages, and these efforts will help to do just that.”

MLGW is the largest three-service public power utility in the nation, serving more than 429,000 customers in Memphis and Shelby County.