Jun 16, 2010 6:32 PM by Carolyn Cerda
Slemco costumers are seeing a new charge on their bill. It's called "Gustav-Ike Storm-Rider" and is suppose to help the electric company replenish funds used during those 2008 hurricanes.
Communications Manager at Slemco, Mary Laurent, says other electric companies implement charges like this after storms all the time. But, after over 70 years in business, this is the first time Slemco has had to use a storm-ride charge.
"Normally FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) reimburses us for all of the charges and this was the first time we had to apply because there was $7 Million we did not get reimbursed," Laurent said.
Slemco got approval from the Louisiana Public Service Commission to establish this temporary charge for consumers. But some customers don't think it should be their responsibility to pick up this tab.
"I think it's Slemco's responsibility to fight FEMA on that and not just charge the consumers for it," Broussard resident Chris Oncale said. "I think that the electricity company just has to eat these charges."
Laurent says this was the only option the company had, other than raising permanent rates. And, she she says even with this temporary charge, Slemco customers still receive one of the lowest bills in the state.
"The overall system is used by everyone and we have to make sure that the system is upgraded and ready to go. So, everyone shares a cost in the restoration of power," Laurent said.
The charge will tack on one-tenth of a penny per kilowatt. The average charge for each of Slemco's 90,000 customers: $1.62 a month. The storm-rider charge will be in effect for the next 3 years.