Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Campbell: Entergy’s storm costs on bills too high

by BIZ Magazine

While Entergy Corp. recently reported $1.1 billion profit for 2022, their customers in Louisiana saw increases in their utility bills throughout the year.  Those increases will continue for up to 15 years. They are attributed to storm-restoration charges.  Unfortunately, in Louisiana all of the costs spent restoring areas damaged by natural disasters are passed on to the customers by the utility companies.

Climate change has caused significant changes in the weather traditionally experienced in Louisiana.  For example, South Louisiana was hit particularly hard by multiple hurricanes – Laura, Delta, Zeta and Ida – during just a two-year period, 2020 and 2021.

Entergy came before the Louisiana Public Service Commission twice in 2022 requesting the ability to recoup more than $5 billion in restoration expenses. I voted against both increases. They resulted in an additional $13 for 1250 kilowatt-hours of usage per month by the customers. For higher usage the increase is more. I questioned whether those expenses had to been borne entirely by the customers or if the utility could be made to share responsibility.

Entergy has also requested that customers bear an additional $5 billion in expenses to improve the resiliency of its infrastructure.  Before any further discussion will be had, I have asked the company and LPSC staff to determine where that money will be spent and what parishes will be served. 

The recent increases and those requested apply across the board throughout Louisiana.  This is true even though damage to Entergy’s grid from the 2020-2021 storms occurred primarily in the southern part of the state.  North Louisiana customers equally bear the cost of extensive damage in other parts of the state. I have asked LPSC staff if the cost of storm restoration can be based in part on where actual damage occurred, and that analysis is under way.

With climate change a reality in our world, damaging storms will continue to wreak havoc on the electrical grid across Louisiana.  It is time for utility regulators, company officials and customers to devise a more durable, equitable and affordable way to distribute electricity in our state.

Foster Campbell, Louisiana Public Service Commissioner District 5 (North Louisiana)

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