With concerns over questionably high bills and hot summer days ahead, the New Orleans City Council Utilities Committee is expected to discuss a moratorium to prevent Entergy New Orleans from disconnecting costumers at its next meeting, according to a statement released today (Monday, July 25)
The Utilities Committee meeting takes place at 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 26, during which the committee is expected to recommend a moratorium to prevent Entergy New Orleans from cutting customers’ power through Nov. 1.
Council President Helena Moreno and Councilman JP Morrell, who leads the Utilities Committee, have sent a letter to Entergy New Orleans, letting officials at the utility giant know that they will discuss the moratorium at this week’s committee meeting. The moratorium is expected to be voted on by the full Council on Thursday, Aug. 4.
“With this moratorium on shutoffs, hopefully, the corporation as a whole will determine the best approach to drive down bills and help customers because costs at this level are simply unaffordable,” says Councilwoman Moreno.
Residents can watch the Utilities Committee meeting virtually or to submit public comment by visiting Council.Nola.Gov/live.
“Temperatures are rising to historic highs, and so are utility bills,” says At-large Councilman Morrell. “The current trend of bill prices is unsustainable, and no one should go through a New Orleans summer without power. As chair of the Utility Committee, I am calling for a moratorium on power shutoffs until Nov. 1 to protect the health and well-being of our most vulnerable residents and ratepayers during these challenging times.”
Other members of the Council agree that rising temperatures and rising utility costs make the moratorium a needed step to help protect residents struggling to pay utility bills during the summer months.
“This is, very simply, a matter of life or death for our most vulnerable residents,” says District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso. “Access to electricity during one of the hottest summers on record is vital to the safety of our residents.”
Of course, even if the moratorium is called, Entergy customers will eventually have to pay accurate charges. Entergy offers help through programs like payment extension, deferred payment arrangements and level billing. And assistance with paying Entergy bills for New Orleans residents is available from Total Community Action (TCA), Inc. To learn more about eligibility and required documentation to be approved for TCA’s program, click here.
Meanwhile members of the City Council, which regulates the utility service provider in the New Orleans, are calling on Entergy New Orleans to find more permanent solutions to providing relief to beleaguered customers.
“Countless residents are facing utility bills that are more than double what they were just a few months ago,” said District B Councilwoman Lesli Harris. “In the record unbearable heat, telling families to reduce their energy usage is just not realistic, nor is it enough. As we implement this moratorium, it’s time for Entergy to explore creative solutions to help our most vulnerable residents.”
District C Councilman Freddie King, III, also says he will support the moratorium.
“Entergy rates have skyrocketed, and we have been hearing from the most vulnerable members of our community every day about these soaring rates,” King says. “This Council is committed to holding Entergy accountable, and this is another positive step towards accountability.”
District E Councilman Oliver Thomas echoes the sentiment.
“Nothing could be more irresponsible with so much economic uncertainty and rising fuel costs than to punish our citizens with continued shutoff,” says Thomas. “The city’s people need a break, not their power cut off.”
Moreno is also urging the Louisiana Public Service Commission, which regulates Entergy Louisiana and other utility companies serving customers across Louisiana outside of Orleans Parish, to place the same moratorium.
“It isn’t just the people of New Orleans who are frustrated and worried about their soaring power bills; it’s throughout our region,” Moreno says.