LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Many residents were stressed and worried due to the high temperatures and the economic inflation. As a result, many residents are experiencing their utility bills go up.

“They don’t care. Especially if you say, you have kids. They don’t care. So that’s all I can say. They don’t have no sympathy,” said Natiasha Joseph, an LUS customer. “It’s been rough because I’m out of work right now, but I’m a CNA right now, but I’m not on work.” 

Natiasha Joseph, like many other residents dealing with high utility bills from LUS, expressed her frustration. She is a mother of two daughters, ages 1 and 5-years-old. She said the bills have been challenging to manage. The latest stress on her mind has been about her lights going out. 

“I like to keep to myself, so I’d rather my lights just be on so I don’t have to bother nobody else. I don’t usually ask for help, but when I need help, no one’s here,” said Joseph. 

Joseph says she received a five-day notice from LUS but did not have the money for it. “The total right now is $565. I think. I have to pay $170. I had to pay within five days, so it’s probably going off tonight or tomorrow,” Joseph adds. 

Jeffrey Stewart, the Director of LUS, said there are multiple factors, including the heatwave throughout the state and country during May and June. “During that time, consumption is going to be a lot higher. Air conditions have difficulty catching up with temperatures outside of 100°,” he said. “Consumption up, I estimate, is about 20 to 30% higher than a typical May or June, but it was a very hot summer, and it lasted for several weeks.” 

He said there was more demand on their system than he was accustomed to. Another factor is the international conflict between Russia and Ukraine. “There’s a big international demand because most countries have cut Russia off from supplying their energy needs, and so they look to other countries, including the United States, to provide oil and gas and other energy products,” said the director. “That’s put a strain on domestic supply, so as that supply has come down a little bit because of the international demand, the prices have gone up.”

Some tips he recommends to reduce cost is to use ceiling fans or box fans to help circulate the air and cool the rooms—close blinds or shades. Also, put it 2 to 3 degrees above whatever temperature setting you are comfortable with to save your energy consumption. 

However, Stewart did make a new change to the fuel cost. “I pledged to lower our fuel charges as soon as possible, and we were able to do so today. So we went from 8.2 cents to 7.5 cents today, and that’s a pledge I’m going to make, any chance I have to lower the fuel charges to our customers. We’re going to take immediate action,” he said. “We’re generating ourselves. We’re controlling our costs. We’re making power purchases from the grid. We’re trying to limit the exposure we have.” 

He said the company is doing everything it can to limit the cost. Lafayette City Councilwoman Liz Hebert (Dist. 3) asked to schedule a meeting at City Hall on 705 University Ave. You can attend in person or watch online on Acadiana Open Channel or IBM Cloud Video (formerly known as Ustream).

She said many residents have been coming to her asking why they are consistently seeing an increase not just month by month but compared to last year. “It’s a discussion item. There’s not going to be any voting taking place. There’s no action items at this point; it’s simply for the LUS Director to comment and educate us and the public about this recent increase,” said Hebert. 

She recommends that they reach out to their council members with the LUS customer service if there are concerns and specific questions. The time of the discussion for Q&A for the council members and then following the discussion for three minutes for the constituents only allows limited time. 

“It’s not the time for back-and-forth discussion,” she said. “Often they need to get your information to put your bill and look at it closer, and there’s not going to be time, or that’s not the appropriate place for that.”

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