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Huntsville City Council discusses Entergy rates settlement

Senior Reporter

Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014

Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2014 00:02

City Council

Hannah Zedaker | The Houstonian

Councilmembers Joe Emmett (left), Ronald Allen (center), and Andy Brauninger (right) listen as city lawyer Leonard Schneider discuss the parameters of Ordinance 2014-22. The ordinance is a settlement reached with Entergy to decrease rates for residents while increasing rates for businesses.

Huntsville City Council is discussing the possibility of denying an across-the-board Entergy Texas rate increase request while accepting a settlement reached with the company following Tuesday’s meeting.

With the proposed settlement, residents of Huntsville will see a slight decrease in their Entergy rates if the passes, while big business entities should expect an increase, according to city attorney Leonard Schneider.

The rates for general service, large general service, and large industrial customers are slated to increase, with decreasing rates for small general service and residential customers.

The original ordinance would have increased electric base rates in the Entergy Service Area by $38.6 million per year, as well as an additional $14.5 million per year to implement new riders, totaling $53.1 million. It first filed on Sept. 25, 2013.

The implementation date was pushed back by Entergy to March 15 and again to March 24 to accommodate the passage of the ordinance and the adoption of the settlement rates.

Entergy recently reached a settlement of $18.5 million per year— a difference of roughly $34.6 million.

“What strikes me about this is that the original request and the settlement is such a broad difference,” councilmember Andy Brauniger said. “It almost appears like you’re asking for the moon but settle for the small amount—I just found it kind of strange that the difference between the original request and the settlement was so huge.”

According Schneider, these large decreases are typical.

“I think they’re playing within the rules,” Schneider said. “It’s not uncommon to see a rate increase that’s significantly reduced during settlement.”

Schneider said the attorneys of other cities affected by the proposed increase recently met in Beaumont to discuss with experts the settlements and other alternative options such as switching to the Public Utility Commission. The majority of which accepted the settlement.

“Both parties agreed that this would likely happen had they actually litigated it in front of the Public Utility Commission so that’s why [other city attorneys] accepted this proposal,” Schneider said.  

Statutory deadline to act on Entergy’s rate increase request is March 24, 2014.

 

Other issues discussed at the meeting:

Approval of the City Council Regular Session held on February 4, 2014.

Adoption of Ordinance 2014-21, amending the FY 13-14 budget.

Consideration to authorize the City Manager to apply for the 2015 Victims’ Service Coordinator Grant for $55,178.73, plus $13,794.68 cash match, and adopt Resolution 2014-09 in support of same.

With the exception of Councilmembers Don Johnson and Joe Rodriguez who were absent from Tuesday’s meeting, all motions carried unanimously.

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