Entergy bills drop to 2007 levels

Staff reports

The national economy faces difficult times, but Entergy customers can look forward to lower electricity bills in March.

Due to lower natural gas prices, Entergy Gulf States Louisiana customers can expect to see their lowest bills of the last 15 months when their statements arrive this month.

A customer using 1,000 kWh of electricity will receive a bill of about $95.70 in March, the company said in a release. That’s more than $32 lower than last August’s peak costs of $128.46 for 1,000 kWh and reflects a drop of 25.5 percent. The typical March bill for 1,000 kWh is the lowest since December 2007.

This lower fuel cost means that an average customer spends less than $5 in a 24-hour period for electricity. Almost half of that amount reflects the cost of fuel, such as natural gas, that is used to make electricity and the energy from power purchased from the market. It shows up on bills as the fuel adjustment charge and is passed on at cost to customers with no profit to Entergy.

“We know how difficult the current economy is for our customers, and the fact that fuel prices are still well below their peak levels of last summer is good news,” said David B. Herring, Entergy, customer service manager. “We are very pleased that we can pass this savings on to our customers.”

The price of natural gas rose suddenly throughout the spring and summer of 2008, peaking at a cost of more than $13.50 per MMBtu in July. At the beginning of January, natural gas prices had dropped to $6.16 per MMBtu. Fuel prices from January are reflected in March electricity bills. The lower fuel costs mean that the fuel adjustment portion of customers’ electricity bills is lower. Additional good news for customers is that fuel prices have continued to remain low. At the beginning of March, natural gas prices were $4.07 per MMBtu.

Natural gas is a fuel used to power many of the plants that generate electricity for Entergy Louisiana customers. Entergy does not earn a profit on fuel costs, the release said. Fuel costs are passed on to customers at cost through the fuel adjustment charge, dollar-for-dollar, and are audited periodically by the Louisiana Public Service Commission to ensure that utilities do not pay more than necessary for the fuel that is needed, according to the release.

Even though lower natural gas prices are good news, customers are encouraged to continue to take steps to lower their electricity use, Herring said. The price of natural gas and other fuels shows up on a customer’s bill as part of the fuel adjustment charge, which is calculated from the price of the fuel used to generate electricity and the amount of power that a customer uses each month. As customers reduce their monthly usage, their fuel adjustment charge – and their total bill – goes down.

Entergy’s Louisiana utility companies serve more than one million customers. Entergy Corp. serves 2.7 million customers in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas.