Jackson, MS - After months of denials, Entergy Mississippi has now admitted to overcharging Mississippi ratepayers for power, and to engaging in part of the same scheme it used in Louisiana, where it was forced to pay back $106 million, Attorney General Jim Hood announced today.
The admission was made on Jan. 6, 2009, to members of the Public Utilities Staff and counsel for the Mississippi Public Service Commission. An attorney for Entergy told staff members that the company was mistaken when it stated that the illegal activities in Louisiana did not affect Mississippi ratepayers. The PSC issued an order on Jan. 7, 2009, directing Entergy to file in writing those admissions.
Pursuant to the PSC's order, Entergy has now admitted in a letter to the Commission dated Jan. 8, 2009, that: "...in the course of the Companies' continuing review of the facts in connection with this matter Entergy Mississippi and Entergy Services now have reason to believe that beginning in January 2005 energy produced by the Evangeline (Louisiana) gas contract has been sold into the Entergy exchange and may have an effect on the costs paid by Entergy Mississippi customers."
Despite statements by Entergy CEO and President Haley Fisackerly to WAPT-TV on Oct. 27, 2008, in which he stated that the Louisiana case had "no relevance to the Mississippi ratepayers or to our cost of business here in Mississippi," the opposite now appears to be true.
Said General Hood, "I am glad to see that Entergy Mississippi has begun to come clean and admit that the company has overcharged Mississippi ratepayers by using part of the same scheme for which they had to refund the majority of more than $100 million in Louisiana."
In December, amid growing evidence of questionable business practices in Mississippi, General Hood filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state, charging Entergy with fraud, unjust enrichment, anti-trust violations and other illegal conduct. The suit also charges that Entergy has made false statements to the PSC.
General Hood emphasized that the Mississippi lawsuit is much broader than the Louisiana litigation, covering many more violations that include substantial penalties. The lawsuit charges that, as early as 1974, Entergy Mississippi has been padding its invoices and forcing Mississippi to be a dumping ground for unloading on Mississippi the highest-priced power Entergy has to offer within its four-state system. Entergy Mississippi's actions have resulted in millions of dollars in increased electricity and fuel costs paid by Mississippi consumers.
"Once we obtain their documents and conduct an accounting of the fraudulent charges, Entergy will be forced to pay back what they took by fraudulent means and pay ominous penalties," said General Hood.