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Entergy working with customer after forgotten backyard light pole leads to massive bills

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HAMMOND - A power shutoff for a Hammond resident was a literal matter of life and death. Carolyn Coleman reached out to WBRZ when her utility bill turned excessive five months ago. The hike in price was due to a forgotten backyard light pole. 

"They should be accountable for paying that bill, not me," Coleman said.

Electric companies offered backyard light poles to homeowners for added safety. Now, more than a decade after installation, customers like Coleman are finding out about the poles and added charge on a utility they didn't initially install.

"I've been here ten years, and they just came and dropped this on me," Coleman said. "How do they think I'm going to pay something like this?"

Coleman says of her $900 income, seven hundred is cut out for rent. Whatever is leftover, she budgets for utilities. However, since Coleman couldn't pay the extra fee, the total kept adding up. She says paying the bill now is practically impossible.

Five months after the initial charge, Entergy alerted Coleman that her power would soon be shut off if payments didn't resume.

Coleman's daughter Tresa Remble says turning off electricity would be deadly for Coleman, who relies on an oxygen tank and breathing treatments. 

"She's got to have lights, Remble said. "She has insulin. That's got to stay cool."

The light pole behind the home, Coleman says, doesn't work. Yet it added an extra $40 onto each electricity bill. 

In response, Entergy said in a statement they would not turn off the power, and they are working with Coleman to find a fix.

WBRZ plans to follow up with Entergy and Ms. Coleman at the end of October to see if they came to a lasting solution. 


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