Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay

This excessive heat has made many dread there electric bills but maybe not.

As the heat dome over Louisiana kept temperatures at sweltering levels Wednesday, Entergy Corp. told customers that their power bills are not likely to be a repeat of last summer’s shockers. The reason for the welcome news is that natural gas prices are way down from last year, and likely to remain so in the months ahead. It was a message that Entergy CEO Andrew Marsh delivered to investors in April, when he predicted that the utility’s lower fuel costs won’t affect Entergy’s profit growth. Natural gas prices last summer hit a 14-year high due to a combination of events, including production cuts and higher demand because of the war in Ukraine. Prices have since declined 74% as some of those pressures, particularly on supply, have eased. “Looking ahead for the rest of this summer, we anticipate that natural gas prices will remain at a much lower level,” Sandra Diggs-Miller, Entergy New Orleans’ head of customer service, wrote in a form letter to customers.

We still need to conserve and works on ways to use less.

In a similar letter, Entergy Louisiana’s consumer chief, Michelle Bourg, offered tips to keep a lid on electricity use, which also drives up bills during extreme summer temperatures. The tips include changing air filters, closing window blinds and keeping thermostats set at 78 degrees, or the highest temperature people find bearable, as each degree lower can add 3% to the monthly charge. In June 2022, according to sample bills tracked by the Louisiana Public Service Commission, a household using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity paid about $145 in total. Of that, almost $50 was for the “fuel adjustment clause,” the line on customers’ bills reflecting the cost of fuels, particularly natural gas. This June, the total bill for 1,000 kilowatt hours was barely $124, with the fuel portion coming in at $20.

Entergy uses natural gas.

Entergy is particularly exposed to natural gas, generating almost 60% of its power from the fuel, or about twice the national average. While the lower fuel charge this summer is good news, other looming factors will add to customers’ bills, cautioned Logan Atkinson-Burke, executive director of Alliance for Affordable Energy, a consumer watchdog. Entergy has already asked the City Council for a rate increase in New Orleans, where it is looking to spend at least $1 billion to update infrastructure that has proved vulnerable to storms and prone to power outages. “It isn’t just the formula rate plan,” Atkinson-Burke said. “They are asking for more money in the resiliency docket, and we haven’t even started paying for Hurricane Ida. … So there are lot of pressures on bills coming.” Entergy New Orleans is looking to recover $170 million in costs for Ida. Entergy Louisiana customers are footing the bill for $1.5 billion in Ida costs, on top of the $3.2 billion previously approved to cover other storms of 2020 and 2021. Entergy Louisiana is expected next month to submit its request for a rate hike, a process that typically takes about a year of negotiations with regulators.

To protect their profit margin I guess. Is yours protected?

Our energy bills should mimic last years
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