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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Entergy .... small reduction in costs As reported on by Bruce Eggler... Entergy customers on the east bank of Orleans Parish can look forward to slight reductions in their electricity bills in coming months, a New Orleans City Council committee was told Thursday afternoon. Entergy New Orleans officials and the council's legal and technical advisers on regulating the company agreed last week on a "formula rate plan" settlement that will reduce base electricity rates by 2.5 percent, retroactive to October 2012. That amounts to $6.5 million, the council's Utility Committee was told. Gas rates will not change. Because the change applies only to the base rate, not to fuel adjustment charges, customers' monthly bills will drop by less than 2.5 percent. Technical adviser Joe Vumbaco told the committee that a typical residential customer's bill will fall by 1.55 percent, from $104.63 to $103.01 a month. Commercial customers' bills will be reduced by about 1.64 percent and industrial customers' bills by 1.39 percent. Vumbaco said $3.8 million will be refunded to electricity customers through bill credits over four months, September to December, to make up for overcharges since October 2012. The changes do not affect Entergy Louisiana customers in Algiers. Entergy had put higher rates into effect in October totaling about $1 million for electricity customers and another $1 million for natural gas customers, even though the council advisers' review of the company's books for 2011 suggested that decreases of more than $10 million were called for. Under a 2009 agreement, customers' electricity and gas rates are adjusted annually to the midpoint of approved ranges of rates of returns on the company's equity. After months of legal proceedings, the two sides decided that a $6.5 million reduction in electricity revenues was in order, meaning that the entire electricity rate increase put into effect in October will be refunded with interest, in addition to a lower base rate going forward. The Utility Committee endorsed the settlement Thursday, and the full council is expected to follow suit next week. Clint Vince, the council's chief legal adviser on regulating Entergy, said the 2012 rate settlement is the fifth consecutive year in which action by the council and its advisers has resulted in rate reductions. Cumulatively, the reductions have saved Entergy New Orleans customers $215.5 million since 2009, he said. Councilwoman Susan Guidry called the latest agreement "totally amazing," and Forest Bradley-Wright of the Alliance for Affordable Energy said it was "incredibly wonderful." Real Estate

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