BECi says bills will return to normal in April

Published 7:50 pm Thursday, February 15, 2024

The power cost adjustments (PCA) on the electricity bills of members of the Beauregard Electric Cooperative, Inc. (BECi) should regulate to normal rates by April, according to BECi.

Since January, BECi members have experienced spikes in their PCA. Households using 1000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) saw an approximate increase of 26 percent on their January bill, and will see a 10 percent increase on their February bill.

This was as a result of BECi having received higher than average purchased power cost bills from their power supplier Cleco-Cajun – a utility company that serves 25 parishes in Louisiana. In early December 2023, the bill was $3.5 million higher than the previous month. In January that increase was $4.1 million and in February it was $500,000, said BECi Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Zelenak  at the BECi Board Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 15.

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Due to BECi’s fuel clause adjustment tariff, the increased prices are required to be passed on to members’ electric bills.

Members were informed of the PCA increases in a letter that BECi released in December. In this letter, BECi stated that they were informed that a “Force Majeure” – a clause commonly included in contracts that removes liability for unpredictable and unavoidable events that prevent contracted obligations from being met – was being invoked.

In January, a subsidiary of Cleco-Cajun, Louisiana Generating, told the American Press that a “Force Majeure” was not made under the power supply and services agreement between Louisiana Generating and BECi. However, a “Force Majeure” between Louisiana Generating and the coal barge company they use was declared.

The “Force Majeure” was declared by the coal barge company due to low water levels in the Mississippi River that followed the record drought Louisiana faced in 2023. Louisiana Generating has claimed that the cost of coal per ton spiked as they were unable to fill their barges to maximum capacity with low water levels, Louisiana Generating said.

Zelenak said at the meeting on Thursday that they have requested official documents from Cleco-Cajun confirming the validity of the purchased power cost bills, but have yet to receive that information.

He said that BECi received word that the “Force Majeure” was “technically over” at the start of this month. Cleco-Cajun has begun to ship coal downstream from St. Louis to decrease the purchased power cost bills for BECi. However, he said BECi is unsure how long it will take for the barges from St. Louis to make it to Celco-Cajun’s plants on unload.

Despite uncertainty regarding the barges, PCA on members’ April bill  “should be very close to the average bill of last year,”, he said.

To help members with the financial burden that unexpected bill increases bring, BECi has instituted a Fuel Cost Adjustment (FCA) Increase Deferral Plan. With the plan, members can have the PCA cost increase deferred each month until March 31.

The total deferred amount of the FCA increase will be divided into eight equal monthly payments. These payments will appear on members’ monthly bills as a “contract” amount until fully paid.

The FCA balance can be paid in full any time prior to April 1. No interest will be charged on the deferred balance. Prior to April 1, no members will be disconnected if the deferred FCA balance is not paid in full. After April 1, accounts will be subject to disconnection on unpaid balances.

Members can apply for the deferral plan online at