UPDATE: Entergy may be raising its rates again

Published 8:47 pm Thursday, April 18, 2024

Entergy could be raising its rates again, but the process is being rushed through leaving little to no time for the public to respond, reach out to their Public Service Commissioners or to attend the April 19, 10 a.m. meeting at Cypress Bend in Many.

That is when The Louisiana Public Service Commission (PSC) is voting on the $1.9 billion Entergy proposal for hardening the grid. The measure was filed only four days before the vote, Unlike the standard process that would require a public hearing at a future date.

“We need a resilient grid, but this process is not OK and we should be fighting for a delay,” said Erin Hansen, Together Louisiana analyst. The statewide grassroots network represents more than 250 congregations and civic organizations across the state, 200,000 people.

Hansen rallied people to call their Public Service Commissioners and attend the meeting during a Thursday afternoon zoom call.

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Electric companies make money by spending money “to build things,” Hansen said. “They get a guaranteed rate of return on the money they spend. They are couching this request in terms of resiliency because it’s politically challenging to build gas plants right now.”

A Together Louisiana email outlined its reasons for wanting the vote deferred, in addition to the 11th hour filing that does not give ample time for the public to respond: Utility companies generally  replace equipment in substations, transmission and distribution – essentially poles and wires – out of its operating budget; the request comes not through the docket designated for resilience but in a “utility docket” opened by Entergy itself, and includes no meaningful benchmarks for performance; Entergy’s request does not include a clear breakdown of what projects would be funded and the rationale for funding them; the plan includes a semblance of accountability via a new “Pole Performance Metric,” which says that Entergy will be on the hook for new equipment if it fails, but the policy has loopholes and customers still have to foot the bill for storm costs.

Together Louisiana said the request is for $1.9 billion, and the expense will be passed to the customer over five years.  The Illuminator reported Entergy is seeking $1.7 billion over three years, beginning September 2024 which could translate roughly to a five percent increase on a typical customer’s bill.

“The company has been organizing behind this for months,” Hansen said. Mike Francis, Commissioner for Southwest  Louisiana is thought to be in favor of the proposal. The American Press called his office Thursday morning to find out, and the person who answered indicated he would call back. He was already in Many. He did not call back.