Audit: Recent hurricanes cost Louisiana utility restoration $1.5B in new debt


According to a recent audit, the Louisiana Utilities Restoration Corporation added $1.5 billion in new debt to help utilities restore electricity service after four hurricanes and a winter storm.

The report by Legislative Auditor Mike Waguespack’s office found that that the state-owned nonprofit corporation had to increase both its debt and the storm recovery charges it levies to utilities to pay for those obligations. This included $1.5 billion to cover repairs to the electricity grid from hurricanes Laura, Delta, Zeta and Ida and a winter storm in February 2021.

The corporation also added $209 million in debt to help replenish its storm recovery reserves.

According to the audit, the corporation collected in the fiscal year that ends on June 30 nearly $355.6 million in system restoration charges from Entergy Louisiana, $11.7 million from Entergy Gulf States Louisiana and $8.34 million from Entergy New Orleans.

The audit also found that the corporation’s current liabilities increased by 128%, increasing by $195 million from $152 million in fiscal 2022 to $347.2 million in fiscal 2003.

Its noncurrent liabilities also rose by 48.4%, growing from $3.22 billion to $4.7 billion, with both increases due to increased liabilities.

In fiscal 2023, the corporation paid $96 million in interest and $119.9 million in principal on one set of system restoration bonds, while paying $1 million in interest and $17.7 million in principal for another.

Louisiana has been hit hard by a round of storms in recent years. Hurricane Laura made landfall in Cameron Parish near Lake Charles on Aug. 27, 2020, as a strong Category 4 storm, followed by Category 2 Hurricane Delta just six weeks later and 15 miles east of where Laura made landfall.

On Oct. 28, 2020, Hurricane Zeta made landfall near Cocodrie as a Category 3 storm that passed over New Orleans.

On Aug. 29, 2021, Hurricane Ida was Category 4 when it struck Port Fourchon, the key supply center for the state’s offshore oil and natural gas industry. This date was the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall in 2005 as a Category 4 storm.

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