Iberville Parish kicks off annual utility assistance program

Staff Report

Iberville Parish Government began its annual utility assistance program last week, but Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso told the Parish Council that grant funds may not go as far as they have in recent years.

The program kicked off last week for residents of Bayou Pigeon and Bayou Sorrell and was set to run this week in the north Iberville area.

The parish has more than $100,000 in money to help residents with utility bills, Ourso said.

Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso

“But if it’s expended like I think it is with the high utility rates that are upon us right now – and I think you’re going to see this through this month and all of July and August and into September – you’re going to see that the parish will be short on funds until we get replenished toward the end of the year, which would be around October,” he said.

Ourso expects the outreach program to serve as many residents as last year, or perhaps more because of the higher bills.

“But you have to understand that the bills will be higher because of the price of gas, natural gas and electricity,” he said.

The program will move to the Bayou Goula area after July Fourth, and then to East Iberville the following week.

The program will conclude one week later in White Castle.

A spike in natural gas prices, along with costs related to the aftermath of Hurricane Ida last year, triggered the rate increase.

Entergy, in a notice to consumers, said natural gas prices in April were more than double those in April 2021 and three times higher than 2020.

The increase also from the impact from the 2020 and 2021 weather events, which rank among the worst on record.

“Hurricanes Laura, Delta, Zeta and Ida, along with Winter Storm Uri, brought unprecedented to every corner of the state,” according to Entergy.

The widespread damages prompted major rebuilds to the electrical infrastructure, according to Entergy.

Dr. Craig Greene, who represents District 2 on the Public Service Commission, said the increases were inevitable.

“I think it is important that people brace for reality.  Entergy’s notification utilizes an average customer of 1,000 kWh, but, especially during Louisiana summers, it is difficult for any customer to use that little electricity,” he said. “It is more likely that customers need to be prepared for at least $30 or $40 increases to their bill from rising gas prices and around $15 from storm charges.”

Customers of Plaquemine City Light & Water will also see an increase on their utility bills, but the amount has not yet been determined.