State lawmakers react to constant power outages in Holly Springs
HOLLY SPRINGS, Miss. (WMC) - Customers of the Holly Springs Utility District (HSUD) can certainly sympathize with Memphis Light, Gas and Water (MLGW) customers right now.
They have experienced multiple power outages this year, even when the weather was picture-perfect.
Now, state lawmakers are reaching across the aisle to solve this crisis.
Staff shortages. Lack of experience. Old infrastructure.
There is much that ails the HSUD, but a bipartisan group of Mississippi state lawmakers is determined to resolve the issue.
“We’ve heard the cries of our people. We’ve heard the cries of our constituents,” Representative John Faulkner told Action News 5.
Rep. Faulkner, a Democrat and Holly Springs native who represents Benton, Lafayette, Marshall, and Tate counties, said the power problems plaguing the Holly Springs Utility District require an all-hands-on-deck solution.
“When somebody’s power goes out, it doesn’t matter if you’re Republican or Democrat, Black or white, young or old,” said Rep. Faulkner. “These are all customers and they all deserve a reliable, dependable service.”
He’s teaming up with District 20 State Rep. Chris Brown, a Republican who represents Lee, Itawamba and Monroe counties, to hold a field hearing Friday in Holly Springs.
”Number one, to bring awareness to the crisis there,” said Rep. Brown. “To make sure the ratepayers are being defended and heard, and then dig into finding out why is it happening. And then, what can be done about it?”
HSUD provides service to more than 11,400 business and residential customers in Marshall, Benton and Lafayette counties in Mississippi, along with Hardeman and Fayette counties in Tennessee.
Customers have complained for nearly two years about frequent outages and poor customer service.
“When you call, you get a recording. I’ve never spoken to a human there. Ever,” said one customer.
”If we pay our utility bills, they should provide our power,” said another frustrated ratepayer.
“The main problem is we have had no communication. We’ve had no updates,” an HSUD customer told Action News 5 during a recent power outage.
“We’re supposed to have a leader to guide us and tell us everything is going to be okay,” lamented another.
Right now, Holly Springs Mayor Sharon Gibson and the board of aldermen are in charge of the utility.
Establishing a utility commission and moving that control is just one idea up for discussion at Friday’s meeting.
“Because this is not about throwing stones at anybody,” said Rep. Brown. “We’re all in this together. We all want to solve the problem.”
“I want to make it a launching point as we move forward to make sure that we find a way to fix this situation for years to come,” said Rep. Faulkner.
Rep. Brown says city, county and state leaders will be at the meeting, along with Tennessee Valley Authority officials and community members.
The meeting is this Friday, July 21, at 9:30 a.m. at The Apothecary on East College Avenue in Holly Springs, Mississippi.
Action News 5 will be there and bring you full coverage.
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