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Utility customers should expect to see new 'storm restoration charge' on bill in next year

3 years 7 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, November 05 2020 Nov 5, 2020 November 05, 2020 7:05 PM November 05, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Utility companies have been busy this hurricane season restoring power to tens of thousands of people during the five storms that hit Louisiana.

Cristobal, Marco, Laura, Delta, and last week's Zeta all did their share of damage. While some areas have been greatly impacted and other areas, not at all, everyone will pay for it in the end.

When hurricane season is over, Entergy will be tasked with presenting their storm-related costs to the Louisiana Public Service Commission. District 2 Commissioner Dr. Craig Greene says Entergy customers should expect to see a storm restoration charge on their bills from the 2020 hurricane season.

"I would expect once this process is complete to see a storm restoration charge on your bill and probably for up to 10 years," Greene said. "We have a lengthy process to make sure those costs are accurate."

Greene says the LPSC has several priorities to look after when considering a storm restoration charge for Entergy Customers. Those include ensuring reliability in terms of utility services and affordability in terms of how cost-effective the storm expenses can be reimbursed to Entergy.

To pay the utility company back, bonds are issued. The LPSC says that by issuing bonds, Louisiana Entergy customers save millions of dollars. During Katrina, customers saved about $105 million. During Gustav and Ike, customers saved about $200 million. And with Isaac, another $157 million was saved.

The charge for 2020 storms likely won't show up on Entergy bills for months or even a year from now. It'll be labeled as a "Storm Restoration Charge" and all Louisiana customers - whether they got hit by a storm or not - will see it on their bill and be responsible for payment.

"You know, Shreveport used to think, 'why do we have to pay storm restoration charges,' until they got hit with a Cat 1," Greene said. "The only way you can solve this kind of problem is when we come together, and I just want people to know that our job and what we're pretty diligent about is making sure it's fair and as cheap as possible - prioritizing reliability along the way."

The monthly cost will vary depending on a customer's usage. For the Hurricane Katrina charge, most customers saw a fee of a few dollars a month, but the 2020 hurricane season costs are projected to exceed those numbers.

"This storm overall cost is much higher than Katrina was," Greene said. "The severity and number of storms caused a higher level of damage."

While the LPSC will review all the storm-related costs incurred by Entergy, the utility company says it's exploring all avenues to recover costs in a way that minimizes the effects on customers. That could include federal assistance.

An Entergy spokesperson tells WBRZ, "We know that safe, reliable, and affordable power is important to our customers, and we are going to do everything we can to continue providing all three — including affordable power."

You can learn more here.

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