Bill dispute process is a positive step for frustrated S&WB customers, but what about Entergy customers?
By Jesse George, AAE's New Orleans Policy Director
While this is certainly a positive step for frustrated S&WB customers, it does not address the frustration of Entergy customers who often experience outrageously high bills and wild fluctuations from month to month. In fact, in 2007, the Council codified into law a utility Ratepayer Bill of Rights that delineates an appeals process for Entergy bill disputes to be administered by CURO. Under Article VIII, Division 3, Section 158-1051 of the Municipal Code, CURO is charged with ensuring that “the form for filing such a complaint shall be made available at the Council Utilities Regulatory Office and all customer care centers during regular business hours and shall be mailed to customer by the utility upon customer's request.” In more than a decade and a half, this form has never been created.
We commend the Council for addressing the needs of S&WB customers, but we implore the Council to address the equally pressing concerns of Entergy customers. High Entergy bills lead to arrears which lead to shutoffs. A functioning dispute process is essential to energy justice in a city that suffers from unreasonably high energy burden. The Council and CURO have a longstanding statutory obligation to ratepayers and it is time they fulfill it.