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Repairing ice storm damage in Baton Rouge, Feb. 17.

Louisiana residents will start to notice increases in their utility bills in the coming months as charges for last fall’s hurricanes and February's winter storm roll onto bills. The busy 2020 hurricane season caused significant damage to utility transmission and distribution lines across the state and our utilities racked up significant costs to restore power. Those costs are all passed along to all utility customers. Similarly, the February winter storm caused ice damage to transmission and distribution lines, shut down power generation, and caused the cost of natural gas to skyrocket. Those costs too, will be passed along to you.

The Louisiana Public Service Commission is set to vote on some of these potential increases on Wednesday. For some residents, we’re expecting a roughly 10% increase in monthly utility bills from 2020/21 weather-related disasters alone. This comes at a time when many Louisianans are still cash-strapped from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

If weather-related disasters continue to increase as predicted with climate change, these costs will continue to pile up on bills. Despite our cheap electric rates, Louisiana has some of the highest electricity bills in the country, due to our high energy usage, but also because of storm costs. Charges for hurricanes Katrina and Rita just rolled off utility bills in 2018.

With the costs of climate change expected to be in the trillions of dollars, Gov. John Bel Edwards set greenhouse gas emission goals for the state, aiming to get to net-zero by 2050. Although ambitious, it is apparent that Louisianans are already paying the costs associated with a changing climate and serious action must be taken now.

We are already paying the costs associated with a changing climate and without real climate solutions, bills will continue to pile up. Louisiana can’t afford to ignore climate change.

JESSICA HENDRICKS

state policy director, Alliance for Affordable Energy

Baton Rouge

Our Views: Don't hamstring the energy industry that will fuel our economic recovery