By JACK WEATHERLY
Entergy Mississippi Inc. saved customers about $118 million in the three years after joining a regional transmission organization, the Mississippi Public Service Commission said in a release on Thursday.
Entergy Corp.’s four southern utilities joined the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) on Dec. 19, 2013, after a lengthy regulatory review and cost-benefit analysis. The savings have exceeded the analysis’ projections, according to the PSC.
The analysis called for up to $284 million in savings over a decade for Entergy Mississippi’s customers.
“The Public Service Commission is committed to reducing the cost of electricity in Mississippi,” said Brandon Presley, Northern District commissioner and commission chairman. “By having access to electric power in other markets through MISO, we drive down the cost of living for Entergy customers and grow the state’s economy.”
MISO operates in all or part of 15 states and the province of Manitoba in Canada.
It manages the commitment and dispatch of electrical generation on the transmission grid, maintains reliability, plans new transmission facilities and operates markets for the purchase and sale of electricity and related products.
The $118 million in savings largely comes from efficient movement of electricity, resulting in access to lower cost electricity through MISO’s market. At 6.29 cents per kilowatt hour, Mississippi’s average industrial rate is well below the national average – a key factor when companies look to expand or relocate.
Both Entergy and Mississippi Power Co. are regulated monopolies.
Entergy agreed in 2012 to join MISO after the Justice Department announced that it wouldn’t sue the utility for anticompetitive behavior if the utility did so.
Entergy had long been dogged by claims that it had used control of its grid to favor its own power plants over independent generators, even when it cost much more to make electricity at old, inefficient Entergy plants rather than at new independent plants.
Entergy denied wrongdoing and said it was not responsible for others’ bad business decisions.
Holding down costs “translates to financial savings for member utilities and power consumers, and ultimately fuels a more prosperous economy for our region,” said Todd Hillman, vice president and South Region executive for MISO.
At 6.29 cents per kilowatt hour, Mississippi’s average industrial rate is well below the national average – a key factor when companies look to expand or relocate, according to the release.
Presley said that electricity rates are one of the first things a prospective employer looks at when considering where to locate. Continental Tire, which is making a $1.45 billion corporate investment in Hinds County and will create 2,500 jobs, is a prime example of that, Presley said.
Entergy Mississippi, Inc. provides electricity to approximately 445,000 customers in 45 counties.