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Second portion of Entergy rate increase approved

Jeff Amy, Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Entergy Corp. will raise customer bills again in February to pay the costs of Entergy Mississippi buying a share of the Grand Gulf nuclear plant from sister company Entergy Arkansas.

A residential customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours per month will see his or her bill increase $2.78 per month from the current amount, according to the Mississippi Public Service Commission. Commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday to approve the increase.

Entergy's average residential customer in Mississippi used 1,326 kilowatt hours per month in 2011, according to the Energy Information Administration.

In December, the commission approved a rate increase of $8.29 a month to cover higher natural gas costs as well as the company's recent purchase of a Jackson power plant.

Despite the changes, Entergy says a 1000 kwh-per-month customer will pay $99.71 in February 2013, compared to $95.08 in February 2012.

The Grand Gulf purchase is supposed to save fuel costs in the long run. Entergy projects a savings of $346 million from 2013 to 2042. Grand Gulf runs at half the cost of Entergy Mississippi's next cheapest asset, its share of the Independence coal plant in Arkansas, Entergy officials have said.

"It is a power purchase agreement, so that is more like a lease than an outright purchase," Jeremy Vanderloo, Entergy's head of regulatory affairs in Mississippi, wrote in an email.

The $206 million purchase of the Jackson power plant from KGen Power Corp. is also supposed to save ratepayers money in the long run because the company will be able to generate power more efficiently, spending less on natural gas compared to older plants.

The Public Service Commission ratified an agreement with the company that Entergy would only collect $750,000 for a reserve that the utility can dip into for rebuilding after storms.

Entergy Corp. is based in New Orleans and serves 437,000 customers in 45 counties in the western half of Mississippi.


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