Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday season should result in lower costs for MLGW customers

MLGW customers may find holiday cheer in the fact that costs are likely to be lower this winter. Lower natural gas and electric purchasing costs should mean savings for customers compared to utility costs last winter. This winter’s bills are expected to be about 9.5 percent lower than last winter.

Nationally, the demand for natural gas has fallen throughout this year while supplies have increased. The increase in supply has led to lower costs. On the electric side, TVA has temporarily lowered its estimated Fuel Cost Adjustment for the winter months due to increased supplies of materials used to produce electricity. Water rates have remained steady throughout the past year and MLGW customers have the lowest residential water rates in the nation, according to a 2009 study.

The 9.5 percent savings is estimated for the average residential MLGW customer and covers the typical heating season, November through March and is the total expected savings over the five month period.

Despite the expected lower costs this winter, customer consumption is still the key to controlling energy bills. Weather is the most influential factor on consumption, so customer bills could be higher if a colder than normal winter hits the Mid-South.

“We want our customers to know that they should see a savings this winter, but that savings could disappear if customers do not continue to make energy smart choices. If they increase the amount of electricity and natural gas they use, customers may see higher bills than last year even though our costs are lower,” said MLGW President and CEO Jerry Collins Jr.

Assistance programs

While energy costs are expected to be lower this year, MLGW has several programs to help customers who may be struggling to pay their utility bill.

Budget Billing
MLGW's Budget Billing is designed so that you can pay the same amount every month on your utility bill. Your "budget bill" is calculated by averaging your utility bills over two six-month periods from the previous year (April-September and October-March). If in any month your actual bill is less than your budget bill, you will still be billed the budget amount. The excess is placed in your reserve account and held until it's needed to bring higher bills down to the budget amount. If our reserve fund is not enough to lower the bill to the budget amount, the available funds will be applied and you will pay the difference.

Net Due Date Program
If you are retired or on a fixed income and receive only one check at the beginning of each month, you may qualify for this plan. You may request that the net due date on your bill be delayed until after you have received your check.

Electronic Payments through eBilling
Customers who enroll in MLGW's electronic billing service, eBilling, have the added option of making electronic payments from a checking or savings account at no added fee. Individual and recurring payments can be made. Consolidated payment for multiple accounts can also be handled. Payments scheduled on a business day before 3:00pm Central are posted after 3 p.m. Payments scheduled after 3 p.m. are posted the following business day. MLGW absorbs the transaction costs for participants’ payments, in exchange for bill production and postage savings from paperless billing. You can opt for eBilling during your initial My Account registration, or update your existing profile by logging in and clicking the My User Profile link at

My Account
MLGW’s residential customers can log in to the utility’s Web site ( to determine the factors that have caused their monthly bill to increase or decrease. The new Bill Analysis application enables customers to explore the reasons behind monthly billing fluctuations—such as temperature, usage, billing period, service fees, home improvements and other factors.

Online Payment Arrangements
MLGW customers who have received a cut-off notice can now go to MLGW's Web site at and complete an online form to request a payment extension. By requesting an extension, the payment date can be extended beyond the current due date.

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