NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Members of the New Orleans City Council are hoping to get their constituents some relief as high utility bills remain stagnant.

During a joint committee meeting on Tuesday, council members heard from Entergy New Orleans about service disconnects and considered an ordinance that will allow for intervention within the Sewerage and Water Board.

One customer in attendance exclaimed, “It’s all for their profit! People don’t believe in Entergy anymore!”

Complaints over high Entergy bills come one month after the moratorium on power shutoffs ended.

“Frankly, no one should be suffering in the dark, in the cold while Entergy executives are nice and cozy at home during the holidays,” Jesse George, with the Alliance for Affordable Energy, said.

Entergy staff say when a bill is past due, the disconnect process starts on day 22 and takes 12 days to go into effect. Council members argue the policy doesn’t allow even the most loyal customers any leniency.

“I think what the council expressed today was an expectation of Entergy: You need to resolve this, or we will resolve it for you, and we left them with some very clear indicators of data we expected to have that will, I think, give clarification to what we can do as regulators to intervene,” Councilman At-Large JP Morrell said.

Council members asked Entergy representatives if the company can implement utility bill forgiveness after 5,000 customers requested deferred payment arrangements just this past month.

“We have to look into any of those things, how they will impact the customers, how they will impact the company and just really the impacts overall because anything that’s not paid is shared across other customers,” Entergy staff member Sandra Miller said.

Council members will also consider an ordinance that would set Sewerage and Water Board billing policies and procedures.

“This council took a much more extraordinary step that we went to the legislature and passed laws to take control of the billing structure from Sewerage and Water Board to give people due process and relief,” Morrell said. “Entergy is bad, but the fact that Sewerage and Water Board, as a not-profit-driven municipal utility, is doing similar tactics, it’s actually worse.”

The full council will vote on the ordinance during the next regular meeting on December 15.