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Public Service Commission responds to recent spike in power bills

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 4:39 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Hundreds of customers around the Baton Rouge area are outraged after finding out their bill almost doubled, in some cases, tripled in costs over the past month.

“$600. It went from $80 to $600,” Stacy Slaughter said. “We’ve been paying it perfectly fine with the checks we get, but with it being monthly it’s just tempting to just turn it off and live off a generator and fuel costs are even higher.”

According to the Public Service Commission, the recent spike is because of two things. One is usage, and the other is the cost of fuel, or cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

“Think about it like in a car analogy. You’re both driving farther, which means you’re using it more, and the price of gas is higher. So, the whole trip is going to be more expensive,” Commissioner Dr. Craig Greene said.

Commissioner Dr. Craig Greene said your energy bill is broken into 6 different parts: prudent investment, storm costs, innovation, usage, fuel and profit.

In regards to storm costs, Greene said fees from last year’s storms like Hurricane Laura, Delta, Zeta and the winter ice storm don’t kick in until 2022.

To help combat this recent spike and help people save money, Dr. Greene said they are looking into a few different and innovative ways.

One is looking at smart meters that can help improve user habits.

“Think about a smart phone we have now. If you can set different rooms for different temperatures and different times of the day, that’s going to drive your own usage down,” Greene said.

Greene said it’s not an easy fix, but it’s one that will take time to figure out.”

They’re upsides and downsides to all those, and our jobs are to vet those to see what factors we can play to long-term and short-term lower energy bills, but that’s not an automatic lever to switch right now,” Greene said.

Greene said they are also looking at ways to reinforce the power grid after thousands were left in the dark over the last few storms.

”Generally, it’s what’s most reasonable in terms of cost and how many people can we impact,” Greene said.

That’s a problem that will also take time to figure out, but he hopes the federal government will step in and help.

”So, if we were to restore just from last year’s storms and Ida, it will cost about $4 billion to put it back the way it was. So, if you want to make it stronger, it’s going to cost about 5 to 10 times that,” Greene said.

If you have any issue or dispute with your power bill, you can call the Public Service Commission at 225-765-5031.

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