Entergy gets approval to raise rates in Algiers


The Associated Press

Entergy Louisiana has won permission to raise rates on customers in the Algiers section of New Orleans by 31 percent over the next four years.

The New Orleans City Council unanimously approved the plan Thursday, allowing the unit of Entergy Corp. to raise base rates on customers in the West Bank part of New Orleans for the first time in 28 years.

NOLA.comThe Times-Picayune reported (http://bit.ly/1zsHp1e) that under the settlement, Entergy projects revenue will increase $9.3 million over four years from 22,000 Algiers customers. The first rate increases will start later this month.

Entergy had asked for $12.9 million in rate increases over three years in March. If the council had rejected the settlement, that plan would have taken effect while the city fought it in court.

According to figures provided by Entergy Louisiana, Algiers customers using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month will see their monthly bill increase from $79.23 to $103.62 over the four years. Councilwoman-at-large Stacy Head said the city could end up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney's fees fighting Entergy's plan without guarantee of a better result.

Alyssa Maurice-Anderson, senior regulatory counsel for Entergy Louisiana, said the utility's cost of doing business in Algiers has risen over the past 30 years.

"Current rates in Algiers do not cover the company's costs," she said.

District C Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey, who represents Algiers, said the area has the lowest rates in the Entergy Louisiana system and will continue to even after the rate increase.

Though privately-owned electrical utilities in the rest of the state are regulated by the Louisiana Public Service Commission, rates in New Orleans are regulated by the City Council. Entergy New Orleans, a separate unit of the New Orleans-based utility, serves parts of the city of the East Bank of the Mississippi River.

The settlement gives Entergy Louisiana the permission to apply to transfer Algiers service to Entergy New Orleans.

If approved, the move would bring the entire city's electric service under a single corporate entity for the first time in decades. Entergy is considering merging its Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Gulf States units in the rest of the state.

Clint Vince, a Washington D.C. lawyer who has long advised the council on utility regulation said uniting Algiers with the rest of the city would improve efficiency from a regulatory standpoint.

Both the City Council and Public Service Commission would have to approve a transfer to Entergy New Orleans.

Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com

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