Entergy revises findings of Miss. power transfer

Published 11:33 pm Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Entergy Corp. says it may have sold power to Mississippi earlier than it originally thought under a fuel contract that once led to a refund of $72 million to Louisiana customers.

The statement came Tuesday in a news release. It’s the latest development in the legal fight between Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and the New Orleans-based utility that provides electricity to 2.7 million customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Hood has filed a lawsuit against Entergy and its subsidiaries claiming they illegally manipulated the purchase and sale of electricity to maximize profits.

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Entergy first said no power under the Evangeline gas contract was sold to Mississippi, then revised that claim by saying a small amount of power was sold between 2005 and 2008 under an re-negotiated Evangeline contract following the 2000 refund in Louisiana.

Hood says documents show that the amount sold between 2005 and 2008 was 7 to 9 percent more than Entergy claims.

Earlier this month, Entergy spokeswoman Mara Hartmann said that the contract in question was re-negotiated at a lower cost after a 2000 lawsuit and the company had mistakenly said no power from Louisiana was sold to Mississippi, when it actually was sold to the state in 2005.

Hartmann said that even if it was the same power source as sold to Louisiana, the price was different, so it may not have an impact on Mississippi customers. Company officials did not say if power was sent prior 2000 under the old contract terms that led to the refund of $72 million to Louisiana customers.

Hood said the Evangeline contract accounted for $50 million of that refund after Louisiana officials determined Entergy passed through the cost of damages from an unrelated lawsuit.

“I don’t know how far they have gone back,” Hartmann said Tuesday in response to the question if power was sent to Mississippi prior 2000 under the old contract terms. She said company officials are still reviewing documents.

Dorman Davis, manager of regulatory affairs for Entergy Mississippi, said in the release that the “complexities of energy purchasing” make the review difficult.

“The enormous number of transactions that must be reviewed and the time it will take to do a thorough review, it is not yet known what impact, if any, this may have had,” Davis said in the release. “However, we take this matter very seriously and are working diligently to get an answer as soon as possible.”

Entergy reported its latest revision to the Mississippi Public Service Commission.

Hood said the utility is dragging out the review process by refusing to turn over documents.

“They keep fighting a losing battle,” Hood said Tuesday. “We quietly asked them to provide us with the records in August. Had they given them to us we would have already known. We would have had our experts review it and we would have known how much they owe.”

Hood could not say how the contract has affected Mississippi and said he needs the internal documents he’s been seeking for months.

Entergy previously said its practices were sound and Hood’s allegations of wrongdoing were without merit. Entergy also said its practices are fair and that the Mississippi Public Service Commission is the proper overseeing body, not Hood’s office.

The commission in October ordered Entergy to turn over documents in two Louisiana court cases, including the one involving the disputed contract. The company complied and Hood said those documents showed Entergy’s parent company sold Entergy Mississippi electricity at $26 per 1,000 kilowatt hours that it bought on the open market for $12 per 1,000 kilowatt hours.

Entergy has called all of Hood’s claims “irresponsible, without merit, a waste of taxpayer money and harmful to the state’s business reputation.”