Entergy Arkansas customers will receive a billing credit next month after state regulators spurned the company's attempt to delay and spread out a $15 million refund for ratepayers.
In a ruling Tuesday afternoon, the Public Service Commission rejected Entergy's request for a rehearing and ordered the electric utility to provide customer refunds promptly.
The order said "the public interest is better served by requiring [refunds] ... sooner than later."
Entergy said that it will comply with the latest ruling and issue the refunds to customers during the August billing cycle. Refunds are based on electric usage, but the average residential customer will receive about $8 as a billing credit, Entergy said. The $8 is based on usage of 1,000-kilowatt hours per month.
That was welcome news to the business consumer group that opposed Entergy in the docket, which began in May when Entergy requested a $135 million rate increase that was reversed into a refund by the Public Service Commission.
"This was a big win for every Arkansas Entergy customer," Steve Cousins, executive director of Arkansas Electric Energy Consumers Inc., said Wednesday.
"Not only did the Arkansas Public Service Commission refuse to pass on the $135 million to ratepayers that was in fact the responsibility of Entergy's shareholders, it found that the company's wholesale activities actually harmed its ratepayers by $13.7 million," Cousins said. "The commission further ordered Entergy to refund the $13.7 million quickly, which benefits everyone."
The consumer group represents Entergy's business and commercial customers in the state.
Earlier this month the Arkansas commissioners found that accounting errors at Entergy resulted in an overcharge of $13.7 million. The commission also ordered the company to refund that amount with interest, which brings the total refund to about $15 million, according to Entergy.
Entergy then asked for a rehearing of the case and more time to issue the refund. The commission ruling Tuesday rejected that request.
Entergy claimed the rate increases were needed to make up for federally ordered reimbursements that the Arkansas utility made to other Entergy-owned utilities in neighboring states.