MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When the Problem Solvers got to Laura Pierson’s East Memphis home, they found the MLGW electricity pole in Pierson’s backyard leaning heavily to the side. The pole, which siphons power to nearby businesses, was causing damage to her property.
“The pole was leaning to the west and my house was east of it. The pole is pulling my electric off the house,” Pierson said.
It also created a hole inviting animals into her home.
“My worst fear is the pole’s going to fall,” she said, adding she had called MLGW about it several times.
She said MLGW would send someone out to check the pole but no change would follow. So the 79-year-old called again a few months ago and instead submitted a claim for the damage.
In response, MLGW sent a rejection letter where they said they didn’t know about the pole issue previously, so they weren’t responsible: “Nor could we determine that there was a defect of which MLGW had knowledge.”
Pierson was frustrated because she knew she had called about it several time.
So next, she called the WREG Problem Solvers. We contacted MLGW, who immediately sent an email saying they would replace the pole.
“It’s great. That’s what we wanted,” Pierson said.
But Pierson is only one of MLGW’s nearly 500,000 customers. And she is far from the only one facing issues like this.
In a January 2020 report, MLGW said deferred maintenance has now created urgent needs for investment. In a 2021 budget plan, MLGW specifically denoted $15 million for replacing wood poles that don’t meet inspection requirements.
On March 3, MLGW CEO J.T. Young said the utility would now put other projects on hold to focus the issue.
“As we thought about infrastructure improvements we need to make on our electric system as well as on our water and gas systems, we want to be able to be single-minded about that,” Young said.
At Pierson’s home, we spotted tree trimmers clearing the way for the pole replacement. Ultimately, MLGW did the work in the dead of night, leaving Pierson to wake up to a new pole in her backyard.
“They started about 12 or 12:30 and evidently finished before dawn,” she said.
Pierson said she was relieved and thanked the Problem Solvers for making the difference in getting the pole removed.
Pierson no longer has a leaning pole but still needs thousands of dollars of work done on her home to fix the damage.
The Problem Solvers have requested all the complaints made from her address since 2008 and are still waiting on the results.