NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The $20-$30 increase on Janice Cruz’s Entergy bill came as a shock she says, especially living on a fixed income.
“Eighty is a stretch, $80 is way off the chain that’s not normal,” said Cruz.
“I’m gonna have to have medicine down the road, water and groceries, and I’m sorry I don’t have money to give away as I said I’m a bill payer, but I’m no bill player,” said Cruz. Included on her bill are a number of additional charges.
Months ago, Louisiana’s Alliance for Affordable Energy says they feared all these charges would come due at the same time, especially after Entergy sent a letter to the city council in December that a fuel adjustment cost would spike in January.
Then the bills tack on the added cost of the New Orleans power plant, and costs from plant outages that Entergy buys into.
“Typically when we get that power, we don’t have to pay additional power from the grid, but if they’re down, we have to buy. We have to pay for those plants and that power on top of it. Plus the fact that folks were home, it was cold, holiday cooking. We knew that bills, all of these things, stacked up together were going to be pretty rough,” said Logan Burke, CEO for Louisiana’s Alliance for Affordable Energy.
Burke says one of those power plants, the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station in Mississippi is the ineffective plant of the two, saying both the city council and Entergy need to seriously re-evaluate if the investment is worthwhile.
“We’ve been calling, for at very least, a prudence review into what is happening at the Mississippi plant and whether customers deserve a refund for some of the dollars that we’ve spent wasted on that plant over the last number of years,” said Burke.
“Some of their generating plants were undergoing maintenance which is normal during the off-shoulder months,” said Entergy New Orleans CEO David Ellis.
Ellis says these outages were expected, but their benefits of clean and available energy outweigh the costs.
“The objective is to be at net-zero carbon by 2050, and to be at zero carbon... there is no way to do that other than leveraging technologies like nuclear,” said Ellis.
He says while they were expecting higher bills this time of year, he explained the average increase would have been somewhere between 10 to 12 dollars attributing higher bills to increased usage during the winter months of a pandemic.
But he cautions residents should expect even higher bills later on, as the storm damage adjustment cost from Louisiana’s 7 storms has yet to be tacked on. “There’s a cost associated with all of that none of that is free so yes we’re going to look to recover the cost associated with that,” said Ellis.
The Energy Alliance says in light of these bills, the city should also push back the impending disconnect date in February.
Councilmember Helena Moreno released a statement saying the higher bills are more than cold weather-related and plans to call a special meeting.
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