Thursday, April 18, 2024

Entergy files regulatory blueprint to further strengthen electric grid in Louisiana

by BIZ Magazine

Entergy Louisiana filed a regulatory proposal with the Louisiana Public Service Commission that outlines the blueprint for providing customers with clean, reliable and affordable electric service into the future. The proposal not only would pave the way for future improvements to the grid while maintaining low rates, but also would hold the company accountable for providing high levels of service to customers with financial penalties if these standards are not met.

Clean, reliable and affordable electric service supports everyday life in our homes, communities, schools, hospitals and businesses and supports economic development by convincing companies and industries to choose our state for investment projects and operations that bring well-paying jobs and drive local spending. It is also a critical service for communities facing more intense and frequent severe weather.

In its filing, the company proposes modifying and extending its current Formula Rate Plan, a framework that sets the utility’s base rates using actual costs and revenue and adjusts them annually, for three years.

The FRP has allowed Entergy Louisiana, under the oversight of the LPSC, to improve and upgrade its electric system through various distribution, transmission and generation projects; deploy smart devices onto the system to minimize outage impacts; and even begin incorporating renewable power like solar, among other measures. Extending the FRP would allow the company to continue performing this critical work, as well as trim trees away from electric equipment and begin accelerating the hardening of its grid against storms.

While strengthening the electric system is important to the health and well-being of our communities and supporting economic development, Entergy Louisiana understands that affordability is also important to its customers. That is why the company is proposing extending its FRP in lieu of a full rate case, a route that reduces by more than half the revenue requirement increase supported by a cost-of-service study.

Beyond maintaining affordable rates, many of the modifications to the FRP that Entergy Louisiana has proposed in its filing would directly benefit customers, including:

  • Pledging $1 million to assist customers in need and providing free home energy efficiency kits.
  • Adding $1 million to its The Power to Care match for older adults and disabled customers.
  • Reducing the amount of late fees charged to customers who fall behind on their bills.
  • Eliminating electric service connection fees for new customers and reconnection fees in many situations.
  • Expanding the program that provides eligible low-income older adults monthly discounts on their bills.
  • Streamlining rates so that residential customers in different parts of the state are subject to the same rate structures.
  • Lowering the rates for additional facilities.
  • And new rate options for customers with electric vehicle charging equipment.

To be accountable to customers, Entergy Louisiana is also proposing adhering to the most stringent reliability standards of any utility provider in the state and setting financial penalties for not meeting those standards.

“We have always been committed to providing our customers with clean, reliable and affordable power, and today’s filing with the Louisiana Public Service Commission is an important step toward continuing to meet that commitment,” said Phillip May, Entergy Louisiana president and CEO. “We know that our customers are relying on us to keep the lights on and their bills as low as possible, and that is the spirit of today’s filing and the investment we’ve proposed to the Commission on behalf of the residents and businesses we serve.”

Entergy Louisiana’s proposed FRP seeks approval of an approximately $173 million electric revenue requirement increase based on an extension of the FRP, which is a reduction of more than half in comparison to the cost-of-service study results. The filing is subject to a detailed review by the Commission and its staff and other interested parties.

If the plan is implemented as proposed, the average Entergy Louisiana residential customer using 1,000 kWh would see their monthly bills go up approximately 5.6%, or $6.75. Despite this modest increase, Entergy Louisiana will continue maintaining electric rates below the national average.

Entergy plans to continue investing in projects to strengthen its electric system. These investments are largely to maintain and upgrade the system and improve reliability, which refers to keeping the lights on without service disruptions. Reliability is different from the concept of resilience, which refers to how quickly the lights come back on, and recovery takes place. Both are necessary to ensure we maintain vibrant and thriving communities.

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