Cleco Customers To Get Bill Credits, No July Payments

PINEVILLE, LA (AP) — Cleco customers will get a break on their July electricity bills thanks to a one-time $475 credit kicking in this summer.
 Times-Picayune’s Jennifer Larino reports the credit is one of several incentives state regulators approved as part of a buyout offer for the utility. Cleco, in a Monday news release, says about 287,000 customers will see the full credit on bills starting in July. If a customer's July bill is lower than $475, the credit will continue to apply to the following month's bill until it runs out.

         An investor group led by New York-based Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets bought Cleco in a $4.7 billion deal in April. The bill credit was one of dozens of sweeteners the buyers agreed to in order to win support for the takeover.

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         The Alliance for Affordable Energy, a leading consumer advocacy group in Louisiana, was a vocal opponent of the deal, which it argued would saddle Cleco with enormous debt and raise customer rates over the long term.

         The Louisiana Public Service Commission approved the sale in March after Macquarie and the other investors agreed to meet more than 70 commitments, including handing over $136 million in electricity bill credits for customers and $7 million in grants to be administered by state economic development agencies in the Cleco service territory. The buyers also agreed to maintain Louisiana staffing levels after the purchase.

         The average Cleco customer using about 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity pays about $117 a month, according to figures provided by the utility. Under that scenario, the $475 credit would fully cover four months of electricity, with the remaining $7 in credits to be applied to the customer's bill in the fifth month.

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         "For many of our customers a portion of the credit will roll over for several months," Shirley Turner, vice president of customer experience for Cleco, said in the release. "This will be a big help to those who struggle to cover all of their bills each month."

         All customers with a valid 13-digit account number at the close of business June 30 are eligible for the credit. Customers with multiple accounts will receive a $475 credit for each account.

         For more information

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