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Grace period for flood victim utility disconnections will soon end

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BATON ROUGE - Thousands of residents exempt from utility disconnection following August's historic flooding will soon lose that exemption.

Starting on March 1, the Louisiana Public Service Commission's plan to get money owed to utilities will go into effect. 

In 17 disaster parishes, people benefited from an executive order that stopped utility companies from cutting off service, charging late fees or canceling accounts after the flood. Now, six month later, the companies need their money.

"Now that some time has gone by, the utility companies may disconnect again." LPS Commissioner Lambert Boissiere said. "We want to make sure that people have the ability to get back on their feet, that they haven't he ability to rebuild their lives and work with the utility companies to pay back any past due balances."

The payment plan was passed without any opposition. The new rules allow companies to get the money owed, but over multiple payments. Anyone with past due balances from the last six months will see an additional fee on their bills starting in March.

Th payment plans will span up to 18 months for residents with balances higher than $500. A fraction of their total past due balance will be tacked onto each regular monthly utility bill. Residents with less than $100 will have six months to repay the balance. 

Residents can expect a notice in the upcoming weeks informing them about the process. 

"On March 1, you got to get back to the regular rhythm of paying your monthly usage plus a fraction of what is past due," Angelle said.


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