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Entergy bills to rise next month

NATCHEZ — Entergy Mississippi announced Wednesday that its customers should expect in January to see a price increase of approximately 5 percent on their utility bills.

A company spokesman said a typical customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours will pay approximately $95.63 in January and $99.71 in February. That customer would have paid $95.08 for the same amount of electricity in February 2012.

“Electricity rates are determined by a number of factors and continually fluctuate, and we work very hard to keep rates stable and as low as possible.” said Haley Fisackerly, president and chief executive officer of Entergy Mississippi. “We understand that no one ever likes to pay more for something. Even with the increase, our rates remain among the lowest in the state, region and country.”

An increase in the price of natural gas by approximately 33 percent since August and widespread damage to Entergy Mississippi’s infrastructure caused by Tropical Storm Isaac were listed as factors behind the cost increase. Recovery from the storm cost Entergy approximately $30 million, and even though the company has a storm reserve it has had a negative balance since September 2008.

“The key to this storm, Hurricane Isaac, is that it moved so slow, stalling over Louisiana and Mississippi, and that was the biggest problem we had with it,” Natchez District Manager Tim Runnels said. “It moved slow, and wherever it went, it caused a lot of damage.”

“No two storms are the same, we learn from each storm — we learned from (Hurricane) Katrina, we learned from Isaac and even from the ice storms up north we respond to, we learn from those and apply it to the next storm, to be more efficient.”

Entergy has 22,000 customers in its four-county Natchez District. Approximately 10,000 of those are in the Natchez area.

According to the company, even with the increase in rates Entergy Mississippi’s residential rates will still be 16 percent lower than the current national average residential rate. Entergy’s fuel costs are passed through to the customer with no profit, the company said.

In the long term, Entergy hopes to be able to pass on energy savings to customers through two recent purchases, the Hinds Energy Plant and additional units of generation from the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station.

“The purchase of a modern new power plant and an increase in our share of Grand Gulf’s output will bring long-term savings to help offset fluctuations that are beyond our control, such as storms and fuel prices on the world market,” Fisackerly said. “In addition, our recently-approved move to the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, which will take place by this time next year is estimated to save our customers up to $284 million over the next decade.”

Fiasckerly encouraged customers to visit www.entergy-mississippi.com for energy saving tips.