Entergy Mississippi customers will receive credits on their energy bill as early as this summer and future bill reductions over the next several years as part of a $300-million settlement the company has reached with the Mississippi Public Service Commission.
Earlier this week, Entergy officials and MPSC commissioners approved the settlement agreement that ends Mississippi’s part in multi-state rate proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission involving the customer rate impacts of Grand Gulf Nuclear Station. Entergy operates Grand Gulf and owns 90% of the station under its subsidiary, System Energy Resources, Inc.
Entergy estimates approximately $300 million in benefits to Mississippi customers as a result of the settlement. Customers will see these benefits in three ways. First, an estimated $200 million of the benefits will be used to offset high fuel prices being incurred to generate electricity. Fuel costs are passed through directly to customers with no profit to the company. Second, an estimated $35 million of the benefits will be provided as lump sum bill credits to each Entergy Mississippi customer this year. The $35 million benefit results in a one-time credit of approximately $80 for Entergy Mississippi’s residential customers. Third, customers will receive the remaining benefits of the settlement in the coming years in the form of lower bills than they otherwise would see. In addition, Entergy Mississippi customers have already received another $50 million in bill credits through prior refunds made during the FERC proceedings.
“By resolving these issues, we can focus on the long-term future of Grand Gulf Nuclear Station to ensure it remains the critical, emissions-free power source it is to serve our customers,” said Haley Fisackerly, Entergy Mississippi president and CEO. “With natural gas prices having tripled over the last year, raising customer power bills as a result, the low-cost power we get from Grand Gulf is a financial lifeline to our customers right now.”
The settlement involved more than a dozen separate proceedings, including some that raised decades-old issues, brought by the public service commissions of Louisiana, Arkansas, the City of New Orleans and, in part, Mississippi. The MPSC disputed the company’s position on a variety of issues involving the taxing, accounting and financing of the nuclear unit and its impact on customers’ bills.
Entergy has long maintained that the disputed positions regarding the taxing, financing, accounting and operating of Grand Gulf before FERC are proper, well-reasoned and in the best interest of its customers and the company. Entergy also believes Grand Gulf has provided consistent value for its customers through its operations over the years. However, Entergy officials explained that the ongoing cost of the dispute at FERC and the uncertainty it created for customers, employees and stockholders led the company to seek a resolution.
“While no settlement is perfect for all parties involved, we applaud the Mississippi commissioners for taking this action. They recognized the need to represent their constituents’ interests while at the same time securing the long-term future of a vital resource to Mississippi consumers and Mississippi’s economy,” said Fisackerly. Entergy officials added that they hope the other states involved in the FERC dispute will follow Mississippi’s lead and seek to settle the remaining claims.
Entergy officials will work closely with the MPSC to make sure the customer bill credits for its more than 461,000 customers in Mississippi are implemented as soon as possible. In addition, Fisackerly said he appreciated those Entergy employees who have long worked with FERC on these issues and those employees at Grand Gulf who have reached several performance milestones despite the lengthy regulatory dispute.
“The more than 850 men and women at Grand Gulf have not been distracted by these issues and have continually focused on safely and reliably serving our customers. In the last year alone, they have achieved not only the highest status in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s overall performance matrix, but also have set all-time station records for gross and net generation in megawatt-hours,” said Fisackerly. “The future is bright for Grand Gulf and its important place as a clean, affordable and reliable energy resource for our Mississippi customers.”