JACKSON — Entergy Mississippi customers will get a refund over the next six months thanks to lower natural gas prices.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission on Thursday approved a plan for Entergy to issue $46 million in bill credits to customers beginning in September and ending in February.
A residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per month will get a credit of $6.44 per month, dropping monthly bills by 6 percent from $108.25 to $101.81. Most customers use more than 1,000 kwh per month, and thus pay higher bills.
Last year, when the unit of New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. filed its yearly plan to buy natural gas, it predicted higher prices and commissioners approved higher rates for customers. But natural gas prices have fallen below what the company predicted.
“Those fuel savings are being flowed back to customers through a decrease in bills,” Entergy Mississippi CEO Haley Fisackerly said in a statement.
Entergy spokesman Joey Lee said the company can’t predict whether the decrease will continue when it files its next fuel purchase plan. Lee said the company tries to lock in some of its gas needs each year through buying and selling futures contracts. But Lee said Entergy makes some purchases on the spot market and has benefited from falling prices this year.
Nearly half of the power Entergy generated internally in 2014 was from plants that burn natural gas, not counting purchases from other generators.
Entergy Mississippi, with 442,000 customers in the western half of the state, went through a period when it raised rates five times in two years in 2013 and 2014, but costs to customers have now fallen three times this year, a total 9 percent decrease.