Friday, April 16, 2021

MLGW’s Share the Pennies program makes small change count

A little can go a long way...

The Share the Pennies Home Weatherization Program is proof that small change can make a big difference. Started in 2013, Share the Pennies is a partnership between Memphis Light, Gas and Water and the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA) designed to help address energy burden in Memphis and Shelby County. The bill round-up program provides grants for qualified, limited-income homeowners to receive weatherization and energy-efficiency repairs to their homes. The program celebrated a milestone recently with the completion of over 500 homes in March 2021. This accomplishment was achieved with the help of another key partner, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), with a donation of $1 million.

While Memphis continues to have some of the lowest energy rates in the country, the city leads the nation in energy burden for low-income communities. With many residents living in older homes that are not energy efficient, high utility bills can easily become an issue. Recognizing the need to address this problem, MLGW created Share the Pennies, which has become one of its most successful programs to assist homeowners and families.

“Share the Pennies program is a direct response and reflection of our concern regarding energy burden in our community. We're happy to lead an effort that performs energy efficiency repairs and improvements to the homes of our customers who have fixed and limited incomes. The results of this program often reduce energy bills and increase home health, safety and durability,” stated Jim West, MLGW Vice President and Chief Customer Officer.

Qualified homeowners who are in dire need of assistance can receive weatherization work and energy efficiency upgrades at no cost. The program is currently at capacity and not accepting applications due to the great need for this type of work in the community. While these services are free to eligible homeowners, a large amount of funding is required to make this happen. Qualified contractors must be hired to complete the repairs. MIFA manages the application process and oversees many administrative functions. “We are proud to play a key role in the Share the Pennies partnership,” expressed MIFA President and CEO Sally Heinz. “The program aligns with our mission of serving vulnerable members of our community in a meaningful way.”

Outside of MLGW and MIFA, the most important partnership is with participating MLGW customers. Share the Pennies receives funding through participating customers who have their utility bills rounded up to the next whole dollar, the extra change donated is used for weatherization grants. For example, if your utility costs are $174.50, your bill is rounded up to $175, and 50 cents goes towards the grant program.


Prior to January 2018, Share the Pennies was an opt-in program. This meant customers had to sign up to donate to the program. In 2016, current Memphis City Councilwoman Patrice Robison, proposed a resolution to automatically enroll all customers in the round-up program, allowing customers an easy way to make a contribution to the community. Customers have the ability to opt out of the program if they wish to do so. The Memphis City Council passed the resolution with a unanimous 10-0 vote and the MLGW Board of Commissioners voted to approve the change in Feb. 2017. Councilwoman Robinson stated, “This is about Memphians helping Memphians and several organizations coming together to make a sustainable impact.”

In January 2018, the new funding model was applied to all residential and commercial customers. Since its implementation, the program has raised over $4.4 million with 87% customer enrollment. MLGW is elated to lead the effort to create energy-efficient homes in Memphis and Shelby County and looks forward to making a larger impact in the future.

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