Angry Entergy customers protest rising bills outside utility’s New Orleans headquarters
Chants of ‘No more shutoffs, no more hikes, we deserve AC and lights’
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Angry Entergy customers gathered outside the company’s headquarters in New Orleans to call for change as bills skyrocket and many across the state struggle with impending service shutoffs.
“I hope they see that people are not going to take it anymore, that we’re standing up and demanding that our regulators act on behalf of ratepayers to protect their best interests and to protect the most vulnerable among us,” said Jesse George of the Alliance for Affordable Energy.
It’s no secret that people across the state are struggling with massive hikes in their electric bills, some increasing by more than 100 percent over last year.
“Even folks actively trying to conserve are seeing bills they say are completely unaffordable and that the situation is untenable,” George said.
The Alliance for Affordable Energy is one of several groups in a coalition demanding no more shut-offs or rate hikes and a move away from fossil fuel. Entergy has cited rising fuel costs, a nuclear plant shutdown and high demand in the face of record heat for the higher bills.
“I just had one of the residents call me and told me, ‘Miss Katherine, you know, I just got a $700 bill. How am I gonna pay that?’ Well, you just think about what Entergy just said. They’re gonna defer the payments,” said Katherine Prevost with the Upper Ninth Ward’s Bunny Friend Neighborhood Association. “How are you going to pay the $700, plus your next bill, plus your next bill till November?”
Entergy New Orleans has agreed to a 90-day moratorium on shutoffs during this dangerous summer heat. But the protesters want more, saying their fight is not limited to New Orleans. Entergy Louisiana has not followed suit with a statewide shut-off moratorium, George said, because the Public Service Commission which regulates that utility has not demanded one.
Entergy Louisiana’s CEO Phillip May recently said that, after Hurricane Ida, the company had to borrow $2.5 billion dollars to get everything up and running again.
May said because of that storm damage, Entergy is not getting the 9.5 percent profits the company is allowed to earn.
But the ratepayers are not satisfied, saying power poles and other infrastructure in their neighborhoods appear neglected.
New Orleans’ moratorium does not become legally binding until the City Council votes to pass it on Thursday.
Entergy has announced it will commit $10 million in shareholder donations to payment assistance programs and will waive some late fees for eligible residents.
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