La. Public Service Commission looking for way to keep storm restoration fees low

Officials with the La. Public Service Commission look to keep storm restoration fees low for recovering residents

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) is working on a plan to keep those storm restoration fees down after a busy 2020 hurricane season.

It’s been a long and taxing hurricane season for Louisiana, but some people who were hit hard by the storms like Alanna Ardoin in Lake Charles, La are still trying to rebuild.

“Like our house is pretty damaged as it is and I thank God every day because we still have the inside of the house, and I know most people really don’t,” Ardoin says.

Hurricanes are hard to avoid in our state, but so are storm restoration fees. So far, the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) estimates at least $2 billion in damage for this year’s hurricane season. That cost could get tacked onto your monthly bills.

“It’s really important as most customers in Louisiana are familiar with that storm restoration charge. It’s somewhat of a necessary evil in Louisiana. Hurricanes are a when not an if. So, that storm restoration charge is how utilities and customers of those utilities kind of pay for those storm costs,” says David Zeto who is chief of staff for LPSC’s District 2.

However, the LPSC just agreed that utility companies like Entergy and Cleco may be eligible for federal funding to help out customers in Louisiana. Through the Stafford Act Fund, energy companies could pay off some of those storm fees and keep more money in your wallet.

“We do need to keep in mind that hurricane restoration is still going, it’s still happening. It’s going to be an ongoing process and we need to remember those parishes out there in Western Louisiana. They are not out of this yet. Any focus that we can keep on that that they will get all of the assistance they can, will be helpful for everybody in whole,” adds Zito. Generally, storm restoration fees can last for about ten years after a hurricane. Louisiana recently just finished paying off Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

“Investor-owned utilities like Entergy, your Cleco, they don’t have access to that FEMA money traditionally, so the expansion of the Stafford Act would allow Congress to dole out FEMA dollars to them,” said David Zito, chief of staff for LPSC.

Generally, storm restoration fees can last for about ten years after a hurricane. Louisiana recently just finished paying off Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The LPSC will bring the possible federal funding proposal to congress, then it’s up to Congress to give the final approval.

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