Entergy sued over fuel rate hikes in Mississippi

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Attorney General Jim Hood has taken Entergy Mississippi to court to get information about the company’s fuel purchase operations, fuel price adjustments and fuel cost recovery practices.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Hinds County Chancery Court.

Hood has accused Entergy of buying electricity and fuel at inflated rates from its sister companies in neighboring states and then overcharging Mississippi customers.

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Mississippi has a fuel adjustment policy that allows electric utilities to predict the price of the natural gas that they’ll need to make electricity before they buy it.

Entergy has asked a federal judge to block Hood’s request for internal company information about fuel prices.

Natural gas costs running more than 100 percent more than last year’s were cited by the company when customer bills rose 28 percent for July and August. The company filed for consecutive decreases in the fuel charge in the weeks since, including a rare mid-quarter adjustment, citing falling natural gas prices.

A 9 percent decrease proposed for October bills would mean a bill of about $109 for residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity.

Natural gas prices opened this morning at just less than $8 per million British thermal units, down from a peak of about $14 earlier this summer.

All fuel adjustments by electricity providers in Mississippi are made to the public utilities staff of the Public Service Commission, which recommends actions on the fuel component of customer bills to the three-member panel. Reviews or adjustments are made within a 45-day period before the start of the affected quarter.

Entergy Mississippi, a subsidiary of New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., provides electricity for 443,000 customers in 45 counties.