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Erath City Hall

Erath residents complaining about high electricity bills

ERATH — After Tuesday night’s Erath Aldermen’s meeting, the Mayor and some aldermen stayed to answer questions that a handful of residents had about their electricity bills.
Residents had questions for Mayor Taylor Mencacci and a couple of aldermen as to why their electricity was higher than usual and what is “Fuel Adjustment cost,” which is also on the electrical bill.
Erath residents complaining about high electricity rates is a common practice during the summer months. Two years earlier, Erath resident Jason Connor was asking former Erath Mayor John Earl LeBlanc why the electricity was so expensive in Erath.
Today, Connor, the Mayor Pro Tem in Erath, and Mayor Mencacci are answering the same questions they asked the former Mayor and aldermen more than two years earlier.
Erath resident Jamie Meyers stood in front of the Erath aldermen and Mayor and wanted answers about his high electricity bill.
“That is what y’all ran on, saying y’all were going to lower the town’s electricity rates. What changed? Why are we OK?”
Mencacci said, “We are not OK.”
Erath is in its fourth year of a five-year contract with CLECO. The aldermen and Mayor are in the process of shopping for other electrical companies for lower rates.
Under the present contract with CLECO, Mayor Mencacci explained the town charges residents 4.9 cents per kilowatt per hour and 5.4 cents per kilowatt per hour for businesses.
That 4.9 percent is slightly higher than other towns the size of Erath. The Mayor explained why.
The Mayor explained to Meyers that Erath does not collect a lot of sales tax revenue or property tax revenue, which is used to fund the town’s budget.
Erath gets an average of $22,000 a month in sales tax compared to Maurice, which gets around $60,000. Gueydan brings in $19,000 a month.
For the entire year, Erath only collects $22,000 in property tax.
Because there are not many businesses in Erath, the town needs more revenue to help pay its city workers, including its police.
It uses 1/3 of the money the utility fund brings in to fund its entire town’s operations.
Meyers also wanted to know what is “Fuel Adjustment” cost that appears on the electrical bill.
The Fuel Adjustment cost is what CLECO charges each resident. Each month they charge could be 8 cents per kilowatt-hour to as high as 14 cents per kilowatt-hour.
CLECO calls that charge, “Demand Surcharge.” The definition of demand surcharge is “an extra amount that a customer is charged because a business has had to pay more for its energy.”
Because of the different amount CLECO can charge for Fuel Adjustment cost, Mencacci said that is why the charge fluctuates each month.
Mencacci also said the town has no control over what CLECO charges for fuel adjustment cost (Demand Surcharge).
Mencacci added, “It (the electricity bill) is frustrating.”

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