We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again- if you want low electricity rates, your utility company isn’t the place to look. The cost of electricity is on the rise again, this time for customers of Entergy Louisiana. Although the company has done a great job of offering some of the lowest electric bills in the U.S. to its Louisiana customers, those days will soon be over.
According to the Louisiana Public Service Commission, it is expected that Entergy Louisiana’s electricity rates will begin rising in 2019, and will continue for the next decade. The reason for this steady increase is due to Entergy’s plans to build a dozen new energy plants. Some of these will be replacing older, less efficient plants currently in operation. The rest will be built to help Entergy meet the growing energy needs of the state.
However, the Louisiana Energy Users Group (LEUG), which represents industrial consumers, is concerned. Manufacturers along the Mississippi River predict that rates will go as high as 40%, which could add $5 to $10 million in costs for a mid-sized plant using 50 MW. And the current rates also have yet to factor in the costs of three new electric generation plants that will soon open, such as the state-of-the-art St. Charles Power Station. The Alliance for Affordable Energy, which is made up of residential and small business customers, is also worried about how all of these increases will affect users. Logan Atkinson Burke, who heads the Alliance, said “We’re getting nervous about what all this is going to look like.”
The Public Service Commission has been offered several other options by LEUG that would help both Entergy, and its customers. One such option is different pricing schemes to help Entergy better divert energy when needed. Entergy Louisiana seems willing to work with LEUG to incorporate some of the proposed ideas prior to asking the PSC for approval. While it is good that Entergy is willing to work with their customers to find solutions, these are short-term fixes to a problem that isn’t going to go away. A 40% electricity rate hike is terrible, and it’s unlikely to get any better in the future.
Fossil fuels are expensive to harvest and refine, are becoming scarcer each year, and cost money to transport. All of these costs trickle down to the customers, who end up having to pay more over time for all of this. The only solution is to move from fossil fuels to renewable energies like solar power. With solar, utilities and residents alike can generate their own power, keeping both electricity rates and pollution levels low. Hopefully Entergy Louisiana will soon catch on to this, and will start to incorporate solar power rather than building new energy plants.