City hires BR consultants to review electricity rates

Deidre Cruse

The Plaquemine Board of Selectmen last week hired a firm of Baton Rouge consultants to conduct the first electrical rate study in some 20 years.

Mayor Mark A. “Tony” Gulotta said he had interviewed officials from several companies, but settled on the engineering consulting firm  Brooks-Harbour & Associates because the members of the firm “were the only ones who really understood Louisiana utilities.”

Gulotta said he wanted the city to have more flexibility to arrange utility bills and adjust rates to accommodate City Light & Water customers when the cost of producing electricity and usage soar, as they did last summer.

Entergy had spread its fuel adjustment charge over three months to help its customers last summer, when natural gas rates and then electrical rates climbed.  The city did not have that flexibility.

“There are ways to transfer some of the burden away from the higher usage months,” said Kenneth S. Berrrigan of Brooks-Harbour.

In other action, the city council agreed to seek $12 million from federal stimulus funds to build a new regional wastewater treatment plant.

Gulotta said U. S. Senator Mary Landrieu’s office had accepted it.

“Iberville Parish is submitting some projects, but if they will partner with us on this, that project might have a better chance,” the mayor said.

About 40 percent of the sewage the city treats comes from outside the city limits.

The city council also agreed to apply to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality for a low interest loan of $12 million for the plant, in case the federal funding request fails.