NEW ORLEANS — Higher than normal electric bills have gotten a lot of folks heated lately.
In New Orleans, it’s led to a few months of protection for Entergy customers, but there are calls for those protections to be given to all Entergy customers.
Taking their voices and their signs to Entergy Headquarters in downtown New Orleans Monday, demonstrators said they’re tired of feeling powerless against their power company.
“It’s ridiculous,” Jack Reno Sweeney with Sunrise Movement New Orleans said.
Because high power bills can lead to the inability to pay, Sweeney is one of the voices calling for a statewide moratorium on shutoffs.
“We won’t stand for any shutoffs anywhere in Louisiana, not just New Orleans,” Sweeney said.
Through a moratorium by the New Orleans City Council, shutoffs in the city are suspended through November 1. Sweeney wants the Louisiana Public Service Commission to do the same thing, to cover all Entergy customers.
“The only thing that would ensure working families get a fair shake is the PSC acting in their legislative regulatory capacity to reign in some of Entergy’s profit-seeking behavior,” Sweeney said.
With high bills mixed with hot months, Sweeney said customers across the state shouldn’t have to worry about air conditioners with no power supply.
“This is a commodity that people rely on for survival,” Sweeney said.
That includes Fae Landreneau who, with a heart condition, said she’s lucky to live under the moratorium in New Orleans.
“I need air conditioning, so I don’t pass out, so I don’t have cardiac arrest,” Landreneau said. “Without power, I can’t live. My mom has the same one [heart condition] and I worry for her every day.”
Entergy points to high temperatures, natural gas prices, expiring bill credits, and inflation as big factors in what the company calls ‘the highest electric bills ever seen.’
“With the power bills, it’s just been too much. We’ve been struggling constantly,” Landreneau said.
A struggle Sweeney fears will long continue.
“Come winter weather natural gas costs are still going to be astronomically high and energy is still going to be putting out all these bills,” Sweeney said.
The moratorium in New Orleans doesn’t erase outstanding bills and customers are urged to pay them if possible.
Entergy New Orleans is waiving late payment fees for eligible customers and credit card fees for everyone.
The company is also pledging $10 million for assistance programs but it’s unclear right now how those programs will work.