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Letter to the Mississippi Business Journal

Dear Editor:

Your recent editorial about Entergy contained several factual errors and is based on incorrect assumptions about how electricity competition will likely be implemented.

You incorrectly state that Entergy is “fighting” deregulation. In fact, Entergy is helping make sure Mississippi does not lag behind other states in the region in moving toward competition. And the truth is Mississippi is way ahead of most Southern states on this issue, in large part because of the positive and constructive approach Entergy has taken. That Mississippi is out front is also due to the aggressive approach of the Public Service Commission [PSC] and the Public Utilities Staff.

Some still question whether retail choice is even worth pursuing given Mississippi’s relatively low electricity rates. But we say the question is not if, but when, and perhaps more importantly, how to do electricity competition. This has been our position since the summer of 1996 when this issue first gained widespread public attention.

We support competition done right, and we support moving ahead now to write the new rules for competition in [a] way that is fair to everyone. Our position is clearly stated in our official comments, a public record on file with the PSC.

Entergy has worked hard to ensure that the public is tuned in to this issue. It is not the most exciting news story around lately. But we are taking a number of steps to ensure that the general public, media, opinion leaders and policymakers have information about electricity competition.

We know of no other electricity provider in Mississippi that has sent out more information more often about electricity competition than Entergy. Why? Because we know that public policy this important cannot be formulated properly unless all shareholders are involved.

Your description of the future of current electricity providers post-deregulation is not consistent with the scenario most experts on this issue envision. It is generally accepted that, similar to deregulation of telephone service, the existing companies will continue to own the distribution system — the wires that deliver electricity to your businesses and neighborhoods. Entergy will be responsible for maintaining that system, under service standards and prices regulated by the PSC.

Regarding Entergy’s two-hour service guarantee, you say it’s “irritating” and the consumer gets nothing. We respectfully disagree. Twenty-five dollars does not equal zero — not for the several hundred customers who have received the refund so far.

We don’t know anyone who is irritated by getting $25. On the contrary, we’ve heard overwhelmingly positive comments from customers. We are proud to offer the most aggressive electric power service guarantee in the U.S.

In the future, our customers can expect more changes that bring them better service and lower prices. I think you would agree that to keep doing business the same old way when our business environment is undergoing monumental change would not be wise.

The good news is that our customers will be the winners as we adapt to the coming changes in the electricity business. You are going to hear a lot more about these changes as they unfold over the coming months. We are excited about the opportunities that await us and our customer as competition moves closer.

Fred Johnson

Director of Customer Service

Entergy, Jackson

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