Public Service Commission works to keep customers’ energy prices down

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 6:21 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2021 at 8:53 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The heavy cost of repairs in damages to the state’s power grid has left energy companies with their hands tied.

Dr. Craig Greene, chairman of the Public Service Commission, says it’s a problem that needs to be solved quickly.

“The storms going to cost around probably four to 4.5 billion if you go back two, two and a half years,” said Greene.

To avoid the average customer having their monthly bill significantly raised to cover the cost, the commission is currently asking the federal government to step in and help foot the bill. If the feds decline to help, there’s a backup plan.

“The way that gets paid for is through securitization, like a bond, instead of just letting the companies earn their return. And so, we approved that that can go into the bond mechanism now, which makes the carrying cost for the ratepayer a lot less,” explained Greene.

Right now, the price hikes in your monthly bills are not so much from the storm but because the price of fuel to heat and cool your homes has gone up by a lot.

“If you look at the price of natural gas, even the price of oil is really high. So, a lot of those are fuel costs and the weather. If you have a cold winter and a hot summer, those two factors can sometimes cause bills to increase three to five times,” added Greene.

The commission also said it’s currently taking bids from engineering firms to make the state’s power grid more reliable, durable, and sustainable for the next hard-hitting storm.

“They say, ‘Okay, based on the weather patterns here, the terrain, where’s underground important, concrete poles, metal poles, what’s the best structural grid look like moving forward for Louisiana in an affordable fashion?’” said Greene.

The commission has put in the request for federal aid but it might take some time before a response is given. Until then, the members will keep their focus on deciding who to hire to make those changes to the type of grid that is needed.

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