Entergy customers will see rates drop 20 percent

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 25, 2001

AP and staff reports

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

The Natchez Democrat

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Thousands of Entergy customers in Mississippi will see their

bills drop by 20 percent next month because of lower natural gas

prices and the state Public Service Commission’s switch to a quarterly

rate adjustment system.

The price of natural gas – a major source of power for generating

electricity – has dropped, meaning Entergy can pass savings on

to its customers.

&uot;This means that an average residential bill will decrease

from about $96 for every thousand kilowatt-hours used to about

$77,&uot; said Forest Persons, customer service manager for Entergy

in Natchez.

&uot;Entergy does not make or lose money on the fuel it purchases

to generate electricity,&uot; he said. &uot;When our fuel costs

go down, we pass the savings on to the customer.&uot;

Entergy serves 400,000 Mississippi customers, primarily in

West Mississippi.

The price charged to electric customers includes the cost of

fuels used to generate the power. This cost is passed directly

to customers. Previously, fuel costs were estimated once a year

for the entire year.

However the Public Service Commission, in response to volatile

natural gas prices, in January began to adjust Entergy’s fuel

costs on a quarterly basis.

The quarterly reviews were started to help eliminate &uot;rate

shock,&uot; said Nielsen Cochran, chairman of the regulatory


&uot;You have an increase in production and a decrease in

usage. This has allowed gas companies to store supplies,&uot;

Cochran said.

Mississippi Power, which relies less on natural gas and more

on coal, still gets annual reviews, said spokesman Kurt Brautigam.

Its price per 1,000 kilowatt-hours is $79.83. Mississippi Power

serves 192,000 customers in southeast Mississippi.

Mississippi Valley Gas, which retails natural gas in a number

of counties, also expects lower bills this year, spokesman Phil

Hardwick said. &uot;Natural gas prices this time of the year

compared to the same time last year are considerably lower, and

we expect that to result in lower bills when compared to the same

time last year,&uot; he said.

&uot;I’d hate to put a percentage on it, but I don’t expect

the prices that we had last year,&uot; he said.

In the summer Entergy switched some of its power plants from

natural gas to oil to achieve a cheaper blend, said Entergy Mississippi

President and CEO Carolyn Shanks.

Now that prices on natural gas and oil have both fallen, adjustments

are again being made to find the most economical blend, she said.