Electricity costs down due to lower natural gas prices

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 31, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; An announcement by Entergy Mississippi that electricity bills will be lower this spring is good news for everyone, said Stephen A. Caruthers of the Natchez office.

Entergy officials said this week that a downturn in the price of natural gas will affect their customers&8217; bills in April, May and June, with bills expected to drop by 5.5 percent.

&8220;We adjust fuel costs quarterly,&8221; Caruthers said. &8220;If we don&8217;t have hurricanes or anything unusual happening, then we should continue to see costs go down.&8221;

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Because fuel price adjustments are made every three months, a drop in natural gas costs today would not reflect in tomorrow&8217;s bill, he said. &8220;It takes several months to see it.&8221;

An average residential bill for the months of April, May and June will be $121 per 1,000-kilowatt hours, compared to $128 in the three previous months.

More than half of Entergy Mississippi&8217;s generating plants depend on natural gas for power.

&8220;Natural gas has always been the best fuel for us in the Deep South,&8221; Caruthers said. It always has been plentiful and accessible.

Damages and disruptions by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita made an impact on natural gas prices.

Entergy officials have been seeking ways to ease the impact on their customers of the high gas prices, he said.

Recently, the company purchased a new generating plant in Attala County. The plant is powered by natural gas but operates efficiently because it is a new plant.

&8220;Entergy purchased this plant like nickels on the dollar,&8221; Caruthers said. &8220;That plant runs so much more efficiently and produces electricity more efficiently.&8221;

Furthermore, plans continue to look promising for building a second nuclear plant at Grand Gulf Nuclear Station in Claiborne County.

&8220;We&8217;re still hearing positive things about Grand Gulf,&8221; Caruthers said. &8220;Of course, that will be a few years away.&8221;

Entergy provides electricity to a majority of Natchez residents and to both town and some rural residents in other counties Caruthers serves &8212; Wilkinson, Franklin and Jefferson.

Statewide, Entergy provides power to more than 410,000 customers in 45 states.

&8220;Our goal is to provide reliable, affordable electric service to our customers,&8221; Caruthers said. &8220;We are exploring every method of meeting that goal.&8221;