NEW ORLEANS -- Entergy is raising electricity rates in New Orleans by nearly 2 percent. It's an increase that was already in the works prior to Hurricane Isaac.
Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell, the utility committee chairwoman, said the rates should go down, not up.
"We're negotiating right now,” Hedge-Morrell said. “And we've reached an impasse on maybe one or two issues."
Entergy wants to increase rates by 1.9 percent, which would add about $1.36 to the average household's monthly bill.
A City Council report last month identified three key issues where council advisers think Entergy shouldn't be able to collect from ratepayers:
- Entergy wants to recoup $500,000 for defending itself from an anti-trust investigation from the Justice Department.
- It wants close to $6 million for errors in federal rates going back before the current rate schedule was set.
- And it wants around $2 million for accumulated deferred income tax.
The council report actually found that electricity rates should go down by 1.9 percent.
No rate case has ever gone to litigation, but Hedge-Morrell thinks that could change next month.
"They have to understand that we're serious and that we're not going to back down,” she said, “and we'll go from there, but litigation is not out of the realm of possibilities and if it's necessary, that's what we'll do."
Entergy spokesman Philip Allison said the company is dedicated to negotiations with the council, but had to file a final rate by Sept. 26. He said that if an agreement is reached to lower the rates again, a rebate would be given on a subsequent bill.
Allison released the following statement:
"After four consecutive years of rate decreases, on Wednesday Entergy New Orleans implemented a slight reduction to the existing formula rate plan credit on customer bills as a result of lower revenues due to milder weather and rising utility costs. The small reduction in the credit will increase residential customer bills beginning in October by approximately $1.36 per 1,000 kilowatt hours of usage. In addition, a slight adjustment to gas rates will result in a slight decrease of approximately $0.02 per 50 ccf on residential gas bills. These rate adjustments are being implemented while the company, City Council and Intervenors continue to work toward a final resolution of remaining formula rate plan issues."