Archive for the ‘MLGW’ Category
September 10, 2013
Halloween and Smart Meters
Halloween is approaching and a good friend and neighbor told me that he had seen Janis Fullilove following around two men dressed in scary costumes. They were knocking on doors and telling residents that they were there to deliver their “SMART METERS”. While it was impossible to tell who these two costumed gentlemen were, one wag told me that he heard them calling each other Jerry and Chris.
Well no one has knocked on my door yet, My neighbor apparently is in one of the chosen groups that are scheduled to get the first of the recently approved smart meters. After the knock on his door, he asked how to opt out of the program and he was given the attached letters and documents. Talk about scary!! He is still looking over the details of the OPT OUT and has not come to a decision yet. The documents point out lots of good things that will happen if he OPTS IN and lot of bad things that can happen if he OPTS OUT.
But be of good heart. You time will come eventually in the OPT IN/OPT OUT game. In the meantime study the choices. And let me know what you think.
Put Your MLGW Bill On Your Credit Card
My Wife is much more alert to prices and deals then I am. However recently I found out that the MLGW will now let me put my MLGW bill on my credit card. Most government agencies charge at least a 2% fee to let you pay your tax bills or other fees by means of a credit card.
Since I earn air miles on my credit card and because it delays the payment of the bill I decided to sign up to pay my MLGW bill on my credit card. Why not? I went to the website and tried to set it up. I got to one point in the setup screens and got hung up and could never complete the setup. I eventually called and got it completed. Now my bill will automatically be paid by my credit card and I will get an electronic copy of the bills for my records.
September 4, 2013
At the last meeting of the City Council (August 20, 2013) they passed the smart meter resolution. There was also on the agenda an item for a resolution to approve the 2014 Street Lighting Schedule of Fees. This item was delayed until sometime in September.
Let me get this straight. This is an expense that is covered by the services paid for by property taxes. Now the City Council wants to take it out of their expense budget and bill it directly to the taxpayers through the MLGW billing process. If you will look on the back of your MLGW bill you will see that you are already being billed directly for the following.
- Sewer Fee (Memphis)
- Solid Waste Fee (Memphis)
- Storm Water Fee (Memphis)
- Mosquito/Rodent Control Fee (Shelby County)
Now they want to put a street lighting fee on your bill directly instead of raising your property taxes.
August 29, 2013
This review of the Shelby County Efficiency Report is fascinating and reveals many areas of substantial savings that are possible not only in county government but immensely more in the less efficient City government and the school system.
Here are the facts that are revealed in the report.
Median sick days per year
Private sector 6 days per year
State and local governments 12 days per year
Shelby County, City of Memphis, MLGW 12 to 30 days per year depending on longevity
Like any kind of paid leave, sick leave can drive overtime expenses by creating vacancies that must be filled or work backlogs that must be reduced by employees working overtime. Also they allow unlimited carryover of sick leave from year to year. A revised policy of use it or lose each year would save a huge amount of money. This is what most of the private sector does. Why should the public sector get something that is not common in the private taxpaying sector?
Looking at the County overtime expenditures in 2012, it amounted to almost $12 million dollars. It is time we put an end to this sick leave boondoggle. All local governments should go to a paid time off approach (paid time off to include vacations, holidays, sick days, personnel days etc.) that matches the private sector average, not the inflated public sector model.
August 26, 2013
Continuing my review of the Shelby County efficiency report provided by the PFM group, retiree health care costs known as OPEB (other post employment benefits) gives a great contrast between the City and the County. Consider these facts.
The unfunded liability currently reported is as follows.
Shelby County: $232 million
City of Memphis: $1.25 billion
MLGW $420 million
Memphis School System $1.16 billion
Clearly there is a problem with all these systems but the county is in much better shape than all the rest.
Shelby County funds retiree medical and life insurance benefits as well as long-term disability benefits (collectively, known as Other Post-Employment Benefits, or OPEB) for retired County employees. In FY2012, Shelby County contributed approximately $31.9 million to its OPEB trust, with the vast majority of that sum contributed toward retiree health insurance.
Nationally, many state and local governments have delayed pre-funding their OPEB expenses and have too little (or no) money set (more…)
August 20, 2013
Several interesting things are on the City Council Agenda today.
- The smart meter item is up for voting at a cost of $10.15 million.
- There is a proposal for time of use residential rate schedule for those customers choosing smart meters.
- There is a new charge to be on your MLGW bill for street lighting at a residential charge of $51.84 per year, an apartment charge of $12.96 per year and a commercial business charge of $103.80 per year. This is a backdoor tax increase.
- A resolution to accept funding for Memphis Public Library from Humanities TN for the public program Bridging Cultures: Muslim Contribution to the US Since 1776.
I previously made a comment about smart meters and was squarely in the middle of the two sides. One of my readers said that my comments were similar to the famous Whiskey speech by Judge Soggy Sweat. I plead guilty to listening to both sides of the debate and each side has a point. I think it should be approved but without time of use rates. It should be defeated if time of use rates are also approved.
August 6, 2013
I have commented several times on the question of smart meters. Generally I have been against buying and installing 1.3 million smart meters for a price of $215 million starting with the upcoming decision on 60,000. I have heard two presentations by the IBEW union, two by the public activists and two by Jerry Collins, President of the MLGW. Of the three parties, I must conclude that Mr. Collins makes the most sense and has the most points in favor of smart meters.
Here are the favorable points in favor of smart meters.
- To have the MLGW alerted automatically when power fails. The failure information will help speed the restoration effort.
- To eventually do away with the need for meter readers saving overall in operating costs due to less personnel required and saving the hassle of locked gates and pet problems.
- To have the availability of pre-pay service wherein customers can pay as they use the utilities and to automatically notify customers when they are running close to their prepayment amount. Customer cutoffs and reconnection can be done without a visit to the site.
I have heard the arguments for and against smart meters from the MLGW, from the union and from the public. I have heard about the danger of radiation, fires, hacking and potential savings to the MLGW and the customers.
I am not against advances in technology and conservation of energy resources. After much thought I have to come down on the side of personal freedom. Smart meters to me are a form of personal surveillance without a warrant. Smart meters are warrantless wiretaps. What will the MLGW and the federal government do with your data? Will they sell it or use it to control your life style?
We know that google and other data gathers already sell your data. We have seen recent revelations about the National Security Administration, their data gathering and the huge facility they are building in Utah to analyze and store your data. Do you trust your government and their use of this data?
July 1, 2013
The CA ran an article yesterday and concluded that Memphis was not Detroit. The article said in part “When it comes to municipal finance, Memphis is no Detroit. But the problems rocking Detroit also rake Memphis. Analysts say Motown, a city of about 700,000 once populated by 1.8 million people, is a reminder to America of what can happen when problems go untended. Municipal finances implode.
“We’re not going to be the next Detroit,” said University of Memphis economist John Gnuschke. “There’s not going to be another Detroit. They had the perfect storm. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have problems.”
June 14, 2013
I posted a blogpost on memphisshelbyinform.com on Monday June 10th concerning smart meters. Jerry Collins, the President of the MLGW asked for a meeting concerning the contents of the posting to discuss some points that he said were inaccurate. I, of course agreed, as I want to publish nothing but the truth and I will correct any inaccuracies.
Here are the points that he brought up. The words from my blogpost are in italics.
1) There is no national construction standard for smart meters. This is still evolving and will not be prepared for some years from now. The meters we buy now will probably not comply.
The answer from MLGW was the following. MLGW’s Smart Meter Solution Request for Proposal included copies of MLGW’s existing meter standards (Appendices A, B and C). In addition, the RFP included functional requirements for metering, meter data management system, telecommunications and cyber security (pages 67-91). MLGW’s metering standards cite American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C12.10 standards for electric meters, which was last revised in 2011; ANSI B109.3 for gas meters and ANSI/American Water Works Association (AWWA) C701.88 for water meters. The standards, which determine how meters operate as measurement (more…)