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Hot Summer Nights Equal High Summer Utilities Bills

Summer temperatures open pools and snowball stands. Soon we’ll be hearing the music of crickets and the hum of air conditioners whirling day and night.

And then we’ll get our first summer utilities bill.

In a recent opinion survey of 700 AARP members in Louisiana, more than half said they are concerned about the rising costs of heating and cooling their homes. Many think they are currently paying too much for electricity.

AARP Louisiana is working to establish a consumer utilities advocate to represent residential ratepayers at the Public Service Commission (PSC), ensuring independent legal representation for residential ratepayers.

Currently, teams of lawyers represent utility companies and industrial clients before the PSC, presenting expert testimony and policy analysis. The PSC, which operates like a court, takes testimony from their staff and intervening parties, and then weighs that information to make a decision that is in the public interest.

But who represents the residential ratepayer? No one.

According to the survey, 65 percent of Louisiana’s AARP members do not believe the interests of the residential utility customer are represented and taken into consideration when utility rate increases are proposed. Moreover, most think elected officials are not doing enough to help residential utility customers.

“Louisiana is one of a handful of states who do not have a consumer utilities advocate. We strongly believe that an advocate solely dedicated to represent the consumer in rate and policy proceedings before the PSC would protect the publics’ interest far more than what’s currently being done,” said Nancy McPherson, State Director of AARP Louisiana.

Nearly all AARP members in Louisiana would support a law to establish a consumer advocate office that would independently represent and protect the interests of residential utility customers.

“We anticipate going before a legislative committee during this legislative session to present our findings and survey,” said McPherson. “We’re hopeful that our member’s opinions will move legislators into action.”