Entergy (NYSE:ETR) said Nov. 15 it now has all of the retail regulatory decisions needed for its six operating companies to move forward with their plan to join the Midwest ISO (MISO).
In decisions issued on Nov. 15, regulators in New Orleans and Mississippi supported proposals by the companies to join MISO in December 2013.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) decision allows for up to $284m in estimated savings over the next decade for Entergy Mississippi’s customers, Entergy said, adding that in Louisiana, the New Orleans City Council decision is projected to result in more than $40m in savings to New Orleans electric customers.
According to a separate Nov. 15 statement, Mississippi PSC Commissioner Brandon Presley has long questioned Entergy’s transmission access and market practices as harmful to customers, who should be assured that the company is providing them with the least cost and most efficient power option. That concern has been shared by the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ), which on Nov. 14 confirmed an ongoing antitrust investigation into Entergy’s practices in that arena. The DOJ noted that membership in an RTO would alleviate that concern, the statement added.
“I have believed since my first year at the PSC that Entergy’s practices related to their transmission facilities and markets have been harmful to their customers,” Presley said. “I was proud today to vote to take that chance for self-dealing away from Entergy by placing this function within a true independent system to make sure Mississippians get the lowest cost power.”
In a separate Nov. 15 statement, Mississippi PSC Commissioner Lynn Posey said: “The joining of these two companies is in the best interest of the public and will save the ratepayers of Entergy Mississippi a tremendous amount of money through the coming years. The merger will ensure customers get the cheapest possible power, even if that electricity comes from a plant in the upper Midwest.”
According to the New Orleans City Council’s Nov. 15 regular meeting summary, the council passed Resolution R-12-439 that approved the companies’ joint application to join MISO.
“The council negotiated conditions that stipulated that the companies will continue to work to put Entergy New Orleans in its own pricing zone,” the council said. “This will ensure that customers will shoulder the burden of transmission costs that benefit only Orleans Parish energy consumers.”
Entergy said that across its operating companies’ footprint, customer savings are projected to reach $1.4bn in the first decade of MISO membership. Independent studies also forecast significant economic value for electric co-operatives, independent power producers, municipalities and other industry participants, resulting from the move to MISO, Entergy added.
“This represents a huge step forward in our effort to ensure a robust, efficient electrical system serving the future of our city,” said Entergy New Orleans President and CEO Charles Rice Jr. said in the statement. “MISO’s massive footprint and its experience in operating day-ahead and real-time regional energy markets make it the right fit for our customers.”
Entergy Mississippi President and CEO Haley Fisackerly said in the statement, “It’s clear that MISO is good for our customers and the communities we serve – and we’re appreciative of our commission’s decision that joining MISO is in the public interest.”
The Louisiana Public Service Commission issued the first ruling in May regarding Entergy’s proposed move to MISO, followed by Arkansas and Texas state regulators in October, Entergy said.
“Today’s decisions continue the momentum for Entergy’s integration into MISO,” MISO President and CEO John Bear said in a separate Nov. 15 statement. “With regulatory approvals in hand, this gives certainty to market participants, and we stand ready to ensure they are prepared for a full integration of Entergy by December 2013.”
In the Mississippi proceeding, the PSC staff, the South Mississippi Electric Power Association and the Municipal Energy Agency of Mississippi acknowledged the benefits available to Mississippi electric customers, MISO said.
Additionally, Entergy New Orleans reached a settlement agreement with the city council staff finding that the move to MISO was in the public interest. MISO also said it will continue its proactive customer outreach efforts, including training and education during and after the transition to MISO.