Entergy Arkansas remains focused on steps to join MISO

Entergy Arkansas, Inc. remains focused on completing the steps to join the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, or MISO, after the Arkansas Public Service Commission issued an order Friday that laid out conditions for Entergy Arkansas to join the regional transmission organization.

“Friday’s order defined several conditions that Entergy Arkansas and MISO must meet before the Commission will authorize the integration,” said Hugh McDonald, president and chief executive officer of Entergy Arkansas, Inc. “Most of these conditions Entergy Arkansas and MISO have already agreed to as reasonable and appropriate. However, it introduced some conditions that are of concern to the company.

“Two things are clear,” McDonald emphasized. “One, we continue to be completely committed to our proposal to join MISO by December 2013–the arrangement that, per our analysis and that of independent consultants, best ensures the long-term reliability and affordability of electricity for our customers. And two, we’re committed to working with the Commission to attempt to address their concerns. There’s certainly more work to be done, and while we’re still defining just what the next steps are, we are squarely focused on securing the benefits of MISO membership for our customers.”

Driving the issue and Entergy Arkansas’ sense of urgency is the decision announced more than six years ago to leave the contract governing power coordination with the other Entergy utilities in December 2013. By that time, Entergy Arkansas must have in place alternate processes required to operate its electric system.

Extensive analysis completed by the Entergy utilities and confirmed by outside consultants has shown that MISO is the best available option for the company and its customers. In filed testimony and hearings at the APSC, nearly every party to the matter supported or did not oppose Entergy Arkansas’ move to MISO.

Moreover, interveners in the case included large industrial groups, the Arkansas Attorney General’s office, municipalities, the Arkansas electric cooperatives and independent power producers either supported or did not opposed Entergy Arkansas’ proposal to join MISO. Collectively, Entergy Arkansas and the utilities in this group serve more than 80 percent of Arkansas’ electricity consumers.

The analysis projected that joining MISO would save Arkansas electric customers $263 million on a net present value basis based on a study period of 2013 to 2022, as well as improve reliability and provide for more competitive and diverse generation resources.

The projected savings are largely attributable to MISO’s organized power markets, which allow for a more efficient commitment and dispatch of generating plants, to economies of scale offered by an RTO of MISO’s size, and to MISO’s transmission cost allocation methodology that more equitably allocates costs to those receiving the benefits.

“We are going to get this right and make it work,” McDonald added. “We have worked hard to reach this point and demonstrate that membership in MISO is in the best interests of our customers, our communities and our state. The procedural steps and process still have to be worked out, but we are going to do the right thing for our customers.”