Entergy Customers In New Orleans To Pay More, But Pay Less For Gas

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Entergy customers in New Orleans will begin paying for their share of the new $655 million Ninemile 6 power plant in Westwego starting this year.

         The charge will affect more than 168,000 customers. Still, NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune’s Jennifer Larino reports the utility says cheaper natural gas prices will likely cause monthly bills to go down this year.

         The company told city officials that beginning in February a typical Entergy New Orleans customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month will pay an additional $4.06 monthly for the construction of the power plant. That amounts to $48.72 over the year.

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         In Algiers, which is served by Entergy Louisiana, the same typical customer will pay an extra $2.18 per month, or $28.34 for the year. Those customers begin paying this month.

         Entergy New Orleans said fixed costs related to Ninemile 6 construction are expected to total $21.3 million in 2015 for consumers in the city.

         Gary Huntley, vice president of regulatory and governmental affairs for Entergy New Orleans, said customers' monthly bills are projected to decrease in 2015, mainly due to low natural gas prices.

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         "It's very rare that we have an opportunity to add to our generation fleet and what we see is a projection that there will be a lower cost, particularly in the next year," Huntley said. "It's a good story I think."

         Ninemile 6, a 560-megawatt, natural gas-fired power plant, was brought into service in December. The unit, located near the foot of the Huey P. Long Bridge, was one of the country's largest new power generation projects completed in 2014.

         The plant is owned by Entergy Louisiana, though Entergy Gulf States and Entergy New Orleans will purchase power from it. Entergy New Orleans agreed to buy 20 percent of the power generated by the facility, about 112 megawatts of capacity total.

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         Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Gulf States customers in Jefferson Parish and statewide will pay for the remainder of the plant's fixed costs. Entergy has not announced the projected monthly charge for those customers.

         According to Entergy projections, the monthly bill for a typical Entergy New Orleans customer is expected to fall from $103.53 in 2014 to $97.39 this year. In Algiers, the typical power bill is expected to dip from $89.68 per month to $88.24.

         Officials said low natural gas prices have lowered the amount Entergy is paying for fuel to run its power plants, translating to lower costs for customers.

         The monthly fuel adjustment charge for Entergy New Orleans customers with a typical 1,000 kilowatt hour bill is projected to drop from $38.10 in 2014 to $28.21 this year. The monthly fuel adjustment charge for Entergy Louisiana customers in Algiers are expected to fall from $36.90 in 2014 to $30.14.

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