CADDO PARISH, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – SWEPCO admitted to cutting off customers’ electricity during the summer months, which conflicts with what they previously told Caddo Parish Commissioners.
During Monday’s work session, SWEPCO External Affairs representative Michael Corbin addressed the commission again. At the previous work session, he said SWEPCO had not completed any disconnects between June 30 and August 1.
However, after reviewing some information, they found SWEPCO did perform cutoffs to seven different Caddo Parish residents on July 14. Those customers either paid their bills in full or made a payment. SWEPCO sent an email to the commissioners about this before the meeting.
Corbin said Louisiana Public Service law prevents utility shutoffs during extreme heat advisories, and they were “outside the rules” during that time.
“We are being very cautious with our disconnects. We are not disconnecting somebody who has missed one payment or just two payments. We are talking about accounts that are significantly in the arrears,” Corbin said.
He told the commission SWEPCO would announce additional measures to help customers, including waiving late fees, waiving the addition of deposits on existing accounts, and relaxing some payment agreements.
SWEPCO’s call centers are short-staffed and preparing for a surge in calls. No cutoffs will be performed Tuesday due to the heat advisory.
NWLA Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell addressed the commission during the work session. He told commissioners that he supports their efforts for an ordinance requesting SWEPCO put a moratorium on utility shutoffs during the summer heat.
“I think ya’ll are doing good work. I know ya’ll are concise of people out there having a hard, hard time paying their bills. For elderly people, this is dangerous. Hot houses are not just a discomfort. They can mean life or death.” Campbell said. “We know SWEPCO is a monopoly. They have the privilege of serving people here with no competition. That’s a big deal.”
Commissioner Campbell wrote the public service law in 2007 that prevents energy companies from disconnecting service during extreme heat.