Vicksburg woman heats up over Entergy charges|[08/06/2008]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Katrina Johnson of Vicksburg felt like the lone voice in the wilderness at Mississippi Public Service Commission hearings in Jackson Tuesday.

“They sat up and took notice,” said Johnson, a wife and mother of three who was the only member of the public to speak against Entergy Mississippi’s latest fuel adjustment fee that has resulted in hikes of 28 percent for the utility’s customers.

Johnson said the three-member commission representing the state’s three PSC districts heard an earful from her about Entergy’s passage of fuel costs onto customers, which is allowed by state law.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

She referenced predictions of rate decreases on Entergy’s financial report online, a forecast highlighted by a “base rate path less than projected inflation.”

‘If Entergy is doing so well financially, then why are they coming to their customers to pay their price for doing business?’KATRINA JOHNSONVICKSBURG RESIDENTJohnson took issue, asking commission members, “If Entergy is doing so well financially, then why are they coming to their customers to pay their price for doing business?”

Florida-based utilities consultant Walter Drabinski, hired by the PSC to conduct an independent audit of the fuel adjustment charge, testified to the need for utility companies to strike a balance between bottom lines and the needs of its customers.

Entergy has said the adjustment, which is in effect through September, is being driven by the rise in natural gas costs.

Entergy has said a typical customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours a month will pay about $29 more. During summer months, usage typically increases to about 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per month.

The PSC, which regulates electric power, telephone, water and gas-line utilities, has three commissioners representing the northern, central and southern regions of the state. The central district covers 22 counties, including Warren, Claiborne, Sharkey and Issaquena.

Commissioners decided to hold hearings for Entergy to submit evidence that the increase was justified. Consumer groups and others claim the increase is too extreme.

Entergy provides electricity to 433,000 customers in 45 Mississippi counties and makes quarterly fuel adjustments to recover costs of fuel used in its operation.

It delivers to 2.6 million customers in total.