Lafayette, LA (KPEL News) - Since January, SLEMCO customers in their south Louisiana service area have taken to social media to express their frustration over the increase they saw on their bills. They've posted pictures, like the one below, furious about the inflated amounts, doubling in some cases.

SLEMCO provides electricity to homes in the more-rural parts of 9 parishes: Cameron, Vermilion, Iberia, St. Martin, Lafayette, Acadia, St. Landry, Evangeline, and Avoyelles.

Posters have questioned the Power Cost Adjustment that, in some cases, nearly equaled the Energy charge.

A few customers were concerned that recently-installed digital meters could be a culprit, but SLEMCO says that's not the case. The multi-year meter replacement project replaces their 20-year-old counterparts. The SLEMCO public information officer explained:

The new digital meters replace older digital meters that were over 20 years old, getting increasingly harder to get replacement meters, let alone parts for, because new technology has mushroomed over the last 20 years, making the older ones closer to becoming obsolete and unusable.  It was our duty and responsibility to replace them before that happened.

In early February, SLEMCO released information on their Facebook account that explained why the fuel portion of customers' bills went up. Essentially, the cost of transporting coal down the Mississippi River through Louisiana to their power plant in New Roads increased because the river levels dropped due to the drought.

Customers continued to share their frustration with the rising bills and questioned the veracity of SLEMCO's rationale.

Townsquare Media in Lafayette has also been in touch with SLEMCO and asked them the questions we have received. Their public information officer suggested that customers compare their bills to this time last year. Check the kilowatt usage to see if and by how much it increased.

SLEMCO employees joined in the messaging to articulate why bills increased and to share that, as customers themselves, they have seen their bills rise in January. You can watch the video below.

The good news is that February has been mild so, hopefully, customers see their bills return to more normal levels.

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