(WAFB) - An extra fee that was added to Louisiana Entergy customers' bills back in 2008 is catching some people off guard.
Customers expected their bills to be slightly higher as result of unusual sub-freezing temperatures in January, but a line item labeled Storm Restoration Charge has got some customers fuming.
When Tony Martin opened his bill, he says he experienced sticker shock. "Three hundred bucks. I about fell out," Martin said.
Martin says that's twice as much as he paid last month to heat his roughly 2,300 square foot house, but that's not what has Martin hot under the collar. He says it was the $25.39 Storm Restoration Charge that really got him worked up.
"What's it for? I'm trying to figure out what the money is for? Where is the money going to?" Martin asked.
Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Dr. Craig Greene says the extra charge has been showing up on Louisiana Entergy customers' bills since 2008. It is tied to a ten-year bond issued to help pay for storm damages associated with hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, and Isaac. Greene says the charges are based on customers' monthly usage.
"I think this was the smartest way to do it at the time and it is now as well," Greene said.
Commissioner Greene says there is some good news. In October, the portion of the bonds earmarked for damages from Katrina and Rita will expire. That means customers can expect to see that charge reduced by 60 percent. But that's of little comfort to Martin, who's convinced he and other Entergy customers are being saddled with what he refers to as an unnecessary cost.
"I've got to lay down and pay the bill. I'd like to see them refund some of the money to the citizens that they have been popping for all of these years. Since Katrina and all these other storms? Really? Come on," Martin said.
Dr. Greene says the Public Service Commission (PSC) is tracking the rates for accuracy. He says the PSC has also instructed power companies to begin putting money aside for future emergencies so the cost does not have to be passed on to customers.
"We can't say it will never happen again, but we hope it doesn't. We hope we never have to do that again," Greene said.
Entergy says its customers can expect to see additional fee reductions in 2022 and 2026.