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Help for those struggling to pay utility bills after winter storm

Help for those struggling to pay utility bills after winter storm
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Posted at 4:52 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 19:58:41-04

If you have a high utility bill after last month's winter storm, the state is offering assistance. The Public Service Commission ordered utility companies to offer customers flexibility in paying higher bills. Customers have the option to spread out fuel costs over the next six to 12 months. It's welcomed news to customers who saw their bills double and even triple.

When the temperatures dropped in Evangeline Parish, Shalonda Tezeno decided to make use of a vacant building she owns. She turned it into a shelter for those who needed a place to stay warm. Weeks later, she received a utility bill.

"We were looking at a bill that's $1600 for 7 or 8 days," Tezeno said. "I housed maybe like 5 or 6 people. We were using a lot of heat because it was so cold outside,"

However, she won't have to pay it all at once. The state's Public Service Commission is requiring utility companies offer customers flexibility.

"We can't control the weather, but we can control the affect after the weather," Mike Francis who serves as District 4 Public Service Commissioner said. "We talked to all the suppliers. We discussed things with them like excessive bills and they've agreed to work with customers."

For Tezeno it's a weight lifted off her shoulders and that expensive bill won't stop her from helping others.

"If I have to do it again, I will do it," Tezeno said. "I will open the doors and help the community out."

If you need assistance with paying your bill, you have to contact your utility company to have the payments spread out.