CLECO responds to concerns about higher than normal bills

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Courtesy of Cleco

PINEVILLE, La (KLFY) — In its 85-year history, Cleco Power has faced many challenges, and what we are experiencing now is one of those challenges; higher-than-normal bills. 

So, we hear our customers when they tell us that their bill is higher than usual and that we’re falling short of meeting their expectations. 

Many of our employees are customers too, so we understand first-hand the impact. Today, multiple factors are impacting customer bills, including last year’s record-breaking hurricane season, the February 2021 winter storms, higher summer temperatures, increases in our operating costs, and rising fuel costs.

Fuel Costs 

The fuel we use to generate power is passed directly through “at cost” to our customers. There is no markup. These fuel costs are having the greatest impact on customer bills. And there are three factors contributing to the higher fuel charges, but they are temporary.

First, the back-to-back winter storms in February caused an increase in customers’ energy usage and a significant spike in the cost of fuel. To lessen the impact on customer bills, Cleco began spreading those February fuel costs over 12 months beginning in May 2021. After April of 2022, these fuel costs will be paid in full and will no longer impact customer bills.

Second, the cost of the coal used to operate the company’s Dolet Hills power plant in Mansfield, La has increased to the point that the unit is no longer competitive. And while Dolet Hills has served our customers very well over its 35-year life, we have determined it’s in our customers’ best interests to close the plant at the end of this year. So, these higher fuel expenses from Dolet Hills are temporary, as well, and will end early next year after the plant is closed.

Third, the price of natural gas – which is the fuel used to generate most of our power– has nearly doubled since last summer. The higher cost of natural gas is a significant contributor to the increase in fuel charges on customer bills.

New Rate Structure

In July, Cleco Power implemented a new rate structure. This was our first-rate- change in seven years. Changes to our rates are necessary to help better serve

customers, as this is how we upgrade aging infrastructure, meet customer demand, and improve reliability.

Our state is among the lowest nationwide for residential utility rates, but customer usage has been above average this year, largely due to the summer heat and humidity. When temperatures are high, the demand for electricity increases leading to higher energy bills. 

With cooler temperatures on the horizon, the demand for electricity should decrease leading to lower energy bills. Cleco offers multiple programs to help customers reduce their energy usage and reduce their overall electric bill.

Back-to-Back Hurricanes 

Finally, last year’s record-breaking hurricane season is contributing to the increase in customer bills. 

The recovery effort from Hurricanes Laura, Delta, and Zeta can’t be overstated. 

These storms destroyed a sizeable portion of our system and in total, we spent over $240 million to repair, rebuild and restore power. This was the largest combined storm expense in the company’s history, even larger than Hurricanes Katrina and Rita combined.

Some of the Increases are Temporary

With the fuel charges only temporarily impacting customer bills, we are confident that things will get back to normal soon. 

While we understand these explanations don’t change the bottom line on your bill today, we want you to know what’s causing the higher bills and what we’re doing to help bring them down. 

We remain committed to providing you with safe, reliable, and affordable power. 

In the meantime, if you need assistance, please call our Customer Service team at 1-800-622-6537, visit a customer service office or reach out to us on Facebook.

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