Ville Platte protesters gather outside CLECO offices seeking answers on higher than normal utility bills

Evangeline Parish

Note:  CLECO says the company does not charge a deposit for late payments.   If utilities have been terminated, then expect to be charged a deposit.

VILLE PLATTE, La. (KLFY) A group of Ville Platte residents could get some answers sooner rather than later.
On Wednesday, they protested in front of the CLECO office on West Lincoln Road about higher than normal utility bills.

“I paid it in full with $118 and $53. They still charged me a $100 to put it back on.  Now, my bill is $270 dollars,” Abrail Duhon CLECO customer stated.

They may be few in numbers, but their voices represent many.

Residents state-wide have spoken about high utility bills from various service providers.

“I want to know why some months my bill is higher,” Lula Joseph CLECO customer said

Joseph says it’s nothing against CLECO. She just wants her power bill to stop going up.

“I’m on a fixed income. This month my bill was $60 and more. I got to try to find it (money) because I don’t have it. I don’t have it. I’m scared,” Joseph added.

Arthur Sampson Jr. of Ville Platte says the city works for the people.

He wants to know how is the city gets paid while people are struggling.

According to Sampson, he’s seen the contract CLECO has with Ville Platte.

“They have a contract with the city.  If they can pay the city four percent of what they take in, then they can reduce the rates of the people.  Don’t pay the city nothing,” Sampson explained.

CLECO Communication Strategist Fran Phoenix says there are reasons for the higher than normal utility bills.
“The bills are being impacted by fuel.  CLECO does not profit on fuel.  We make no money on fuel.  Fuel is a direct pass through to our customers.  Unfortunately, fuel costs are high,” Phoenix stated.

According to CLECO, natural gas prices are higher and add the impact of 2020 storms and ice storms this year.

She says payments have been stretched over 12 months, coming to an end early next year.

“If we had not taken those measures to spread those costs out they would have been hit just for fuel for the month of February.  That would have hit them much harder,” Phoenix noted.

The group plans to protest next week, if the city doesn’t dig dipper into CLECO’s contract or bring-in another service provider to the job.

“They can’t afford another five to $600 bill with CLECO, then another four to $500 bill with the city.  Plus they got to pay rent.  That’s not fair to these people here.  Like this gentlemen said he’s on a fixed income,” Sampson added.

“We don’t want our customers upset about their bill. We are doing everything we can to mitigate these issues and bring the costs down,” Sampson said.

CLECO has an update:
The Ville Platte Customer Service Office will be opening an additional service window beginning Thursday, September 30. The service window will be dedicated to assisting customers with their bills.  
The office is open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (no lunch closure).

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