Customers of two of Mississippi’s largest utilities will see lower bills in February, but regulators will re-examine natural gas costs to see if bills should fall further.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission voted Tuesday to approve lower fuel costs for both Entergy Mississippi and Mississippi Power Co.
Bills for Entergy customers will fall $88 million overall. Residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours monthly will see bills fall by almost $7, from $100 in January to $93 in February. Most of that decrease stems from lower natural gas prices, although some other adjustments were also factored into the Entergy changes.
Mississippi Power will collect $117 million less for fuel costs. Combined with a decrease in rates paying for part of the $6.5 billion Kemper County power plant, typical residential bills will fall to $125 a month from $144.
Entergy has 442,000 customers in the western half of the state, while Mississippi Power has 186,000 customers from Meridian to the Gulf Coast.
The commission, at the behest of the Public Utilities Staff, ordered both utilities to submit fresh projections, though, in addition to the mandated once-a-year filing.
Mississippi Power spokesman Jeff Shephard said natural gas costs fell during the warm December, meaning the companies are already overcollecting from the projections filed in November. Under state law, utilities get to recover their fuel costs, but aren’t supposed to make a profit.
“The market has dropped since then, so we want them to update the projections,” said Brandi Myrick of the Public Utilities Staff. It’s possible the staff could recommend that the commission cut fuel tariffs further.