Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Virtual Energy Audits Helping MLGW Customers Cope

 

Sitting at his dining room table, MLGW HERS certified Energy Technician David Wright punched in the cell phone number of a homeowner who sought an energy audit.

After introductions Wright asked, “Do you have an iPhone?”

“I do,” replied Bartlett homeowner Darlene Metcalf.

“Is it possible that I can FaceTime you?”

“Sure can,” she said.

That was the start of a 20-minute virtual energy audit.

“We’re meeting people where they are,” explained Margie Borrum-Smith, manager of MLGW’s Energy Services. “It doesn’t matter what kind of phone they have.” Since mid-March, the department has conducted over 300 virtual energy audits with customers.

Once the technicians return to the office, Wright said they’ll be following up with the customers.

So far, the technicians have caught gas leaks, water leaks and loose duct work cooling the attic instead of the home.  “When you call the homeowners, you’re like a knight in shining armor,” Wright said.

Wright suggested that one homeowner check his upstairs water heater and the drain pan attached to a PVC pipe leading outside his home. He said, ‘I’ve got a pond out here.’ His water heater was leaking,” Wright said. “A lot of times, it will be simple stuff causing major problems like a dirty air filter or water constantly running from a toilet.”

Sherry Bougard knew something was wrong because her utility bills were too high for a vacant home she was renovating for her non-profit group, Be Tru Awareness Outreach, which helps victims of domestic violence.

She drove over to the house to check on the contractor’s work. Bougard felt fine when she arrived, but she started getting lightheaded and sick after being inside the house for 15 minutes.

She had already made arrangements for a virtual energy audit that day. The technician asked, “Do you think it’s a gas leak? Go outside and let me see your gas meter. Now put the cell phone camera close to the meter.”

The flow indicator valve on the gas meter was spinning. The technician told her: “You have a gas leak. Stay out of the house.”

The HERS certified energy technician called the MLGW emergency line immediately, and a MLGW customer service technician found a leak in the gas burning fireplace. He turned off the gas, and Bougard hired a plumber to cap it off. “It ended up being a great success,” she said. “It could have been much more detrimental.”

 “As more MLGW customers seek the safety of a virtual home audit,” Borrum-Smith said, “technicians will be able to engage more customers in understanding energy consumption on their utility bills.”

Regarding Metcalf who Wright FaceTimed, Wright recommended adding blinds or thermal drapes to her windows to make her home more energy efficient. Already, she had changed her air filters, fixed a leaky toilet and had her HVAC inspected annually. “She was doing everything right,” he said.

If a homeowner or renter wants a virtual energy audit, call (901) 528-4188 or go online to mlgw.com/energydr.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Green Power Switch is now Green Switch

Earlier this month, MLGW implemented changes to TVA's 20-year-old Green Power Switch program, which enables interested customers to pay extra--above their normal electric charges--on their MLGW bill to support renewable energy generation. For each "block" purchased, participants are able to claim an equivalent portion of their electricity use comes from renewable sources. Approximately 1,100 MLGW customers participate, mainly residential.
 
Changes:
 
A.  Program name changed to Green Switch.
B.  Price per block decreased from $4 to $2.
C.  Amount of renewable energy per block increased from 150 kWh to 200 kWh.
D.  There is no longer a minimum number of "blocks" for non-residential customer participation.
 
All existing customers were rolled into the new program automatically, at their current number of blocks.  These customers have received communications from TVA about the changes, which will appear on their June revenue month bills.

To learn more, or sign up, click here.

Friday, June 12, 2020

James Debose is MLGW's IS Volunteer of the Year

James Debose, Data Security, has been selected as MLGW's Information Services Volunteer of the Year for 2019! DeBose reported the most hours working with youth in the community. He served after hours and on the weekends providing a safe alternative for play and learning.

DeBose’s manager, Douglas Duncan, Data Security, said about his employee, "He is the most positive, do-anything-for-you person I have ever known. Whether it’s at work or outside of work, his attitude is always, if I can do it, I’ll do it."

DeBose started working at MLGW in February 1988 in the Computer Room. He said his time at the Division has been a "humbling experience" and "a joy."

He started volunteering at the Division through company organized initiatives, specifically through MLGW University by going to local inter-city high schools speaking to the students. He encouraged them to be successful in life by being positive and kind to their fellow man. He also provided examples of familiar life success stories to them.

DeBose also volunteered with United Way, coaching kids in sports and working with his wife Angela DeBose, Customer Care Residential Center, on her annual ‘Hoodies for Homeless’ campaign during the Christmas Holidays.

One of DeBose’s primary volunteer efforts outside of MLGW includes working with children in sports. He began after a group of kids in his old neighborhood asked him to coach them in a recreational basketball league 10 years ago.

"I couldn’t say no them, because of my passion for kids and my love for sports. I had to study basketball and coaching, so that I could guide them on how to be successful in what they wanted to do," he said.

As a coach, he shared his life experiences with the kids, provided transportation to those who did not have it, found gyms for practices, and took the team to games. When he’s not coaching or mentoring, DeBose volunteers at Saint Francis of Assisi and Bartlett Recreation Center.

DeBose encourages others to volunteer and said that the work is fulfilling because he knows he is helping others and making a positive difference in people’s lives.

"Our community needs inspiration, hope, people to encourage one another, respect each other and for us to love our neighbors. Volunteering gives us all those rewards and more," he said. "It uplifts me and for me to see the gleam in the kids’ eyes brings satisfaction to my heart. I encourage volunteerism for your own self-gratification."

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Helping the Front Lines of COVID-19


MLGW workers fight the coronavirus one medical face shield at a time 

Five 3-D printers hum and zig-zag a steady and constant pattern at Reuben Hull’s East Memphis home. All are churning out the same product: medical face shield frames. Three printers occupy a spare bedroom. One runs in the hallway and another in a garage workshop.

 
Among MLGW, Hull and Gerald Jameson are both making medical face shield frames for Midsouth Makers. Although he doesn’t have a 3-D printer, IT’s Steven A. Robbins buys rolls of plastic filament needed for the process.

Hull spends his days as a lead electric maintenance mechanic at MLGW. Jameson works in MLGW’s Gas Pressure Regulations Department. At night and on weekends, both are among an army of local volunteers making medical face mask frames and shields. 

“We’ve got something to fight for,” Hull said as he monitored his machines and checked on their progress. “I don’t want innocent people to die.”


By helping in the fight, Jameson said, “I have no doubt we’re having an impact. So far, the group has printed and sent out more than 7,000 medical face shields.

With MLGW’s emphasis on safety, Robbins with Tech Support, found the group’s mission a good fit for him professionally as well as personally.  “Two of my relatives are nurses. They’re on the front lines,” he said. 

The nonprofit group gives the face shields to the Memphis Medical Society to distribute among local hospitals, medical clinics and doctor’s offices. On Sunday afternoons, Hull and Jameson join other volunteers with Midsouth Makers in Bartlett. Volunteers (limited to no more than 10) sanitize and package up frames, face shields and instructions.  


Hull found his niche when he saw a news article in late March about the medical face shields that Midsouth Makers were printing. The first week he made 217 face mask frames. The second week, he churned out 375 frames. (“I wasn’t sleeping much,” he admitted.)

Jameson got involved after his wife, a seamstress, saw a post on her Facebook page.  “I found out it was pretty easy,” Jameson said. While he’s at work, he added, “My wife hits a few buttons and takes the finished ones off and starts it back up for me.” He continues the process after work.


Memphis Medical Society members finish the final assembly with the plastic shields before sending them to those on the medical front lines. If you would like to help buy materials or have a 3-D printer, go to the Midsouth Makers web site: midsouthmakers.org.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Don’t go BOOM! National Safe Digging Month



You’ve seen it on the news. A report of a house blowing up in New Jersey. A story about a backhoe striking a natural gas pipeline causing a fire. A dramatic photo of the massive explosion in San Bruno, California. It happens too often, and research shows the main cause of gas pipeline damage comes from contractors, excavators and homeowners, many of whom haven’t called 811 to have their utility lines marked before digging.

In observation of National Safe Digging Month, MLGW wants you to be safe and Call 811 Before You Dig! Any time you plan to dig… There are some numbers you should know by heart, and 811 is one of them. It’s almost as easy to remember as 911. And it’s a good way to avoid a situation that might actually require an emergency call to 911. An explosion... BOOM! No one really wants that.

National Safe Digging Month reminds us that calling 811 before you dig prevents damage to underground utilities such as natural gas and electric lines and keeps residents safe. MLGW is observing National Safe Digging Month to increase awareness in Memphis and Shelby County to call 811 before you or your contractor do any digging.

When you call 811, underground utility lines on your property will be located free of charge. Tennessee law requires that you give notice to the 811 call center three business days (72 hours) before any digging begins so these utility lines can be located and marked. The service is free, and all residents who intend to dig or excavate or have contractors excavate on their property are required to call or have their contractor call 811. You will know your utilities have been marked by the painted lines on the ground showing where those utilities are located. It doesn’t hurt to take a photo of those lines for reference, but remember to always call 811.

Damage to underground utilities can occur during installation of a fence or mailbox, building a deck or additional room, and even gardening. “We want residents of Shelby County to realize that underground utility lines can be disturbed or damaged by common home improvement projects,” said J.T. Young, MLGW President and CEO. “Promoting awareness of National Safe Digging Month will inform residents and customers to always 811 before you dig, stressing the importance of natural gas safety.” Digging without calling can result in damage to underground utility lines, harm to residents, damage to property, disruption of neighborhood service, and fines and repair costs for those responsible.


If residents or contractors strike or damage a utility line in the process of excavation, they should immediately call MLGW and stop digging. Remember that natural gas smells like rotten eggs. If residents smell this strong odor, they should evacuate the area right away and call 911 and MLGW’s emergency line (528-4465) after leaving the area.

Don’t go BOOM! The best way to avoid dangerous situations is to always call 811 before you dig. For answers to frequently asked questions about Call 811 Before You Dig, check out Common Ground Alliance’s FAQs at http://commongroundalliance.com/programs/811/811-faqs. More information on calling 811 and natural gas pipeline safety can be found on MLGW’s website at mlgw.com.

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