New bill could save you money on your energy payments

Lawmakers debate proposal affecting energy bills

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - After the previous hurricane season, we had the winter freeze and people were baffled by how much their energy bills went up. Lawmakers think they might have found a solution.

With the ugly 2020 hurricane season that brought several named storms to Louisiana, plus the harsh winter freeze, many were left without power for days, some even weeks.

“This is a storm securitization bill related to those storms: Laura, Delta, and Zeta,” said Jody Montelaro, vice president of Entergy Public Affairs.

And the damages done to the powerlines and electric boxes were detrimental to utility companies like Entergy and Cleco.

“And the cost of that was monumental, it wasn’t in the millions; it wasn’t just a billion; it was probably in the multi-billions of dollars,” said Senator Ronnie Johns (R).

And because those companies need to make a profit to survive like any other company, they needed to make up for the money lost on those damages, hence the increase in your energy bills.

“Entergy and other utilities foresaw that kind of impact being too much to the consumers’ bills,” Montelaro added.

But now, they think they might have found the solution to saving you money.

“Basically, what Senate Bill 223 will do is to help with the financing of these repairs and the strengthening and stabilizing of these utilities,” Johns noted.

Before they can raise the rates on your bills, the companies have to go before a board of those who can approve them to do that.

“This bill would no way impinge on the power of the Public Service Commission nor the New Orleans City Council, in terms of their ability to regulate electric rates,” Johns continued.

So, what lawmakers are proposing is allowing the utility companies the option to instead sell bonds that would be put into a trust fund to make up for the money they lose instead of going for your wallet.

“I think this is a great method to keep the rates low because that’s what it’s all about,” said Senator Mark Abraham (R).

“I think this is just really important for the future of our electric companies throughout the state and, the bottom line, it’s in the best interest of the consumer,” said Johns.

The Senate committee ended up voting in favor of moving forward with this bill with no objections. From there, it’s expected to go to the full Senate floor for debate sometime next week.

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