Transmission towers carry electricity in LaPlace on Dec. 28, 2021. (Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator)
A state energy regulator wants all electric utilities in Louisiana to pause shut-offs and refrain from disconnecting anyone’s power while residents are forced to shelter from extreme heat conditions.
Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Davante Lewis said he plans to ask the state’s utility companies to commit to pausing all customer disconnections for as long as the state remains under a state of emergency for extreme heat. Lewis will make the request at the PSC’s meeting Wednesday.
“This heat is real and can be deadly,” Lewis said in a social media post. “That’s why no one should go without power.”
It is common for electric utilities to pause disconnects following natural disasters and other emergencies during which customers might not be able to pay their bills on time.
Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Friday, citing the National Weather Service’s record number of excessive heat warnings for Louisiana with temperatures in the 100s since June 27 and drought conditions in much of the state. Also, some local water utilities, such as in Plaquemines Parish, have experienced outages and boil advisories as a result of drought conditions and increased water demand.
“The Louisiana Department of Health reports that the state has already exceeded the average number of annual heat-related emergency room visits,” Edwards said in a press release. “Additionally, drought conditions and a significant drop in the Mississippi River’s water level have added stress on water supplies and agriculture. This declaration will allow the state to mobilize resources and aid those most affected. Please continue to take precautions when you are outside and check on neighbors who might need assistance.”
The emergency order will remain in effect until Sept. 9 unless Edwards terminates it sooner due to improved conditions. He can also renew the order for an additional 30 days if necessary.
A state of emergency allows the governor’s office to quickly secure and deploy resources for emergency response efforts. It protects consumers against price gouging and suspends certain regulations to allow government agencies to avoid bureaucratic delays.
GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.