NEW ORLEANS — When Margi Kalbacher got her electric bill last week, she was shocked.
“Usually I kind of expect $150 maybe to like $180 bill,” said Kalbacher.
Her current bill from December 17th to January 20th is double that. About $330 for her 1,100 square foot New Orleans home.
“I didn’t feel that I had done anything differently with my lifestyle or my energy use to have it be that high,” said Kalbacher.
She’s not alone.
Entergy New Orleans customers are complaining of soaring bills on social media.
“We want to hear those complaints,” said Entergy New Orleans CEO David Ellis. “If you call us we can look at your very specific problem.”
Ellis says a small increase was expected as a fuel adjustment charge.
That’s because two power plants were down for a period of time, forcing Entergy to spend about $3.9 million to buy power from somewhere else.
Ellis says for a typical customer who uses about 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month, that means about a $10 to $12 increase for that specific charge.
“That doesn’t double anybody’s bill. That’s not going to triple anybody’s bill. There are other factors that result in the increased bill,” said Ellis.
Ellis said other factors include a 12 percent increase in the overall cost of gas, an additional five days in the last billing cycle and increased customer usage because of a cold December.
“Especially when you compare December usage to the prior month, we had a very mild November,” said Ellis.
These bills come as Entergy New Orleans plans to reinstate service cutoffs for nonpayment beginning in February, unless payment plans are in place.
For customers like Kalbacher, it just doesn’t make sense. “I would love for them to show me proof that I used that much,” said Kalbacher.
“It seems like a lot of people are outraged and I know a lot of people can’t afford this,” New Orleans city councilwoman Helena Moreno is calling a special utility meeting for next week to question the spikes.
As of Monday evening, an exact date had not been set.
There is a program in place called “Entergy Smart” that offers home energy assessments and tips on energy efficiency