Entergy Continues to Fight Against Customer Refunds in Spite of FERC Ruling

Credit: “Look Up Fondren Entergy substation lit up” by Tate Nations is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Entergy continues to fight against sending out millions in customer refunds, in spite of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruling confirming that company owes $550 million to customers in Louisiana, Arkansas, and New Orleans. On Tuesday, the FERC issued an order confirming that System Energy Resources, Inc (SERI), a subsidiary of Entergy.However, Entergy group president Rod West issued a statement essentially repeating the company’s previous denials that the order requires Entergy to send out refunds.

“We are pleased today’s order resolves a major source of litigation between our regulators and SERI,” West said. “We hope the clarity provided by the FERC in this ruling helps guide constructive discussions with our regulators to resolve the remaining SERI litigation matters.” West went on to suggest that regulators settle their ongoing claims related to Grand Gulf.

West’s statement baffled regulators from both the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) and New Orleans City Council, who say the order affirms that the refunds are due.

“The FERC order confirms that SERI does owe refunds, contrary to Entergy’s assertions,” an LPSC statement said. “FERC denied SERI’s request for rehearing of the refund issue. Entergy’s public statement provides no FERC language alleged to support its position.”

The FERC order is the result of an ongoing joint lawsuit filed by Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi claiming Entergy overcharged customers for the operation of the Grand Gulf nuclear plant located in Port Gibson, Mississippi. The plant is the largest single-unit nuclear reactor in the country, providing about a third of the power to New Orleans. It also sends power to customers across Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. However, in recent years, the Grand Gulf station has been one of the least-reliable nuclear plants in the nation, leaving customers on the hook for more expensive power solutions.

“With this ruling, it’s clear Entergy owes customers refunds and I will fight to make sure they get them,” said LPSC Vice Chairman Mike Francis. Francis is currently running for secretary of state.

“The ruling is clear that Louisianans are owed a refund. It’s time for Entergy Corporation to stop these legal challenges and comply with the order to refund what is owed to our people,” added Commissioner Davante Lewis. “The time is now to bring the matter to rest.”

Tensions between Entergy and regulators at the LPSC and in the New Orleans City Council have been increasing as both have taken harder stances with the utility following hurricane Ida and its subsequent outages and higher utility bills.

“Entergy needs to  pay the people what they owe without delay,” said New Orleans City Councilmember J.P. Morrell. “When it comes to paying Entergy, you either pay up or they disconnect. But when they owe you, the people, money they suddenly can’t find their wallets. This behavior has got to change. Continuing to delay these rebates is disrespectful to the hardworking people of our city and it isn’t acceptable.”

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