Ourso: City of Plaquemine light bills not my jurisdiction

Staff Report

Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso said last week he received numerous complaints from residents in the Plaquemine city limits upset over their light bills, but he said it’s not in his jurisdiction.

Those calls should have gone to the City of Plaquemine, which owns City Light & Water, the energy provider for homes within the city’s incorporated area, he said.

Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso

“I understand that it’s tough right now and it’s rough for people, but I have no jurisdiction over that,” Ourso said. “The parish of Iberville is not in the electricity business.”

Ourso took the issue to social media, in which he explained that the Iberville Parish Council does not provide electrical service within the parish.

The Parish Utility Department only provides natural gas, some sewer and water services outside the Plaquemine city limits.

The City of Plaquemine owns its electrical system, he said.

“The City of Plaquemine has the sole authority to set its electrical rates for all customers using Plaquemine electrical service for their home or business,” Ourso said.  “The Plaquemine City Council and Mayor are responsible for establishing all utility rates provided by the City of Plaquemine Utility Department (City Light and Water Plant).”

The complaints came in the wake in a spike on last month’s light bills for Plaquemine residents.

Ourso said some residents said on social media that he should involve himself, but he said he has no authority on the matter. 

“Some have gone on social media saying I’m “in charge” of the city of Plaquemine,” he said. “Yes, I’m parish president, but I have no jurisdiction over Plaquemine city government.

“I’ll stand accountable for everything I’m responsible for in the parish,” Ourso said. “But as for the city utility bills, I need to redirect those to the city.”

Pointe Coupee Electric and Entergy are the providers outside the city limits

“If they want to talk about parish sewer or gas bill or sewer bill, that’s my responsibility,” Ourso said. “But I’ve been getting calls that the parish can do something about the city bills, so I want to set the record straight.”

The spike in natural gas costs has played a major part in the spike in utility bills for households nationwide.

Plaquemine is no exception, Mayor Edwin “Ed” Reeves Jr. said.

“The gas prices have almost doubled, and that’s where the problem lies,” he said.

Another dilemma has exacerbated that situation.

City Light & Water was three workers short on the job of meter readers – one who quit, another who sick and one who was out for “unknown reasons.”

In the process, it has taken the depleted crew longer to read all meters across city, Reeves said. 

“That’s where the problem is,” he said.

Some customers had as many as 42 days on their light bill.

Ourso said he has received calls about help on the light bills through the Office of Community Services.

Those funds are funneled from the federal government down to the state, which doles out the money to parishes across the state.

“This year, parishwide. with the extra revenue this year, (OCS) was able to pay $800,000 in utility assistance and rental assistance,” Ourso said. “But demand has been so high that the funds have been depleted.”

Reeves said customers from City Light & Water should call Audrianna Williams if they need to go on payment plan.

“She’ll work with everyone on an individual basis,” he said. The phone number is (225) 687-3725.