Mayor says it would lower electrical rates for residents

ERATH — Three years ago, members of the Erath council and Mayor Taylor Mencacci ran their election campaign with the promise of lowering electricity rates for Erath residents. Well, they may have finally figured out a way to make that promise come true.

At the last two aldermen meetings, the aldermen and mayor have been looking into building the town’s electrical substation.

It would cost the town around $3 million, and the town would borrow the money to build the facility. In addition, an extra amount would be added to Erath residents’ electrical bill, which would go towards paying off the $3 million loan.

According to Erath Mayor Taylor Mencacci, by the town having their own electrical substation, the town could buy electricity at a cheaper rate, which is good news for Erath residents. There would be no middle man, he said.

He used the example of Abbeville. Abbeville is buying electricity from a company in Maryland. Abbeville also has one of the cheapest electrical rates in Acadiana.

Abbeville residents also do not have a “fuel charge” on their electricity bill. They have a flat rate. If Erath builds its own electrical substation, the words “fuel charge” would go away on people’s bills, Mencacci said.

“This should have been done 10 years ago,” said Mayor Mencacci about building an electrical substation. “There would be a fixed rate.”

There is a small electrical substation located in Erath, but Entergy owns it. The main job of a substation is to transform voltage from high to low or vice versa.

Before the power reaches the consumer from the generating station, the electric power is likely to flow through several substations at different voltage levels.

Today, Erath buys electricity from Cleco. Erath then marks up the price and sells it to the homeowner. Erath’s markup brings in around $1 million of the town’s $3 million budget.

In the past, municipalities like Erath, tried to negotiate the lowest rate possible with companies like Cleco, Slemco or Entergy.

That is where Erath is today. They are shopping around for the lowest electrical rate possible and running into a snag. Large electrical companies are not offering cheaper rates.

“They do not want to be in the wholesale business anymore,” the Mayor said.

At the last Erath Board of Aldermen meeting, the aldermen voted to hire Sellers and Associates to research what size electrical substation would be needed for Erath and the cost to build one.

Mencacci predicts it could take anywhere from 18 months to two years before an electrical substation is built.

The town also has to purchase land in Erath to build the electrical substation.

Originally published by Vermilion Today; 3/10/22