Entergy Louisiana will start billing customers statewide $3.2 billion for repairs after five hurricanes in 2020 and 2021. The utility company doesn’t have to pay a dime toward those repairs and its CEO even gets a $4 million pay raise. Meanwhile, all of Entergy’s customers in the state — even those who didn’t have any storm damages or live in an area that wasn’t impacted by a storm during the past two years — have to pay up.
This decision was made by the Louisiana Public Service Commission, which approved the storm tariff despite the criticism that Entergy paid its shareholders $1.5 billion in dividends and granted its CEO a $4 million pay raise during that same period.
Commissioners approved the monthly fee in a 4–1 vote, the Louisiana Illuminator reported. The vote allows for Entergy to pass the costs along as a surcharge on the electricity bills of its 1 million customers across the state. Entergy has given a variety of different estimates that reflect how much a monthly surcharge will be since submitting the proposal last year.
The surcharge fee could vary between $5 and $15 per month and can start showing up on bills as early as May. Shreveport’s Commissioner Foster Campbell cast the vote in opposition to the proposal and said that he didn’t think it fair to customers in north Louisiana who were not affected as much by the storms to have to pay an equal share of the costs while Entergy “won’t pay a single quarter.” He also criticized Entergy CEO Leo Denault for taking a 40% pay raise and approving the shareholders’ dividends.
“Mr. Denault, how are you going to explain to the people of north Louisiana that your salary went from $10 million to $14 million during these troubling times? How do you explain, Mr. Denault, that you gave out $1.5 billion worth of dividends during these troubling times? … I’m just troubled by your company’s arrogance — absolute arrogance.”
As someone who was affected by Ida, I completely understand that this money to cover the repairs has to come from somewhere. I was without power for almost a week and don’t mind paying the extra $15 if it means that it’s actually going toward the cost of repairs. However, I also agree with Campbell.
My hometown of Shreveport is in the northwest corner of Louisiana, and by the time a major hurricane finds its way there, it’s usually down to a normal-sized storm — nothing like the Category 4 and 5 hurricanes that impacted the state last year and in 2020. If customers in north Louisiana weren’t impacted, then why do they have to pay the extra money?
What’s worse is that Entergy is able to give its shareholders dividends and pay its CEO an additional $4 million while customers are paying the price for repairs. Entergy clearly has the money to cover these costs if it can afford to give out billions to its shareholders and a $4 million pay raise to its CEO. At least pay half of the damages. Help your customers without whom you wouldn’t even exist.
The Louisiana Illuminator noted that Denault earned over $16 million in total compensation in 2020 and that Entergy also applied for a $450 million federal grant to make its power grid more resilient. Entergy’s executives responded to Cambell and said that if they were to stop paying dividends to Entergy’s shareholders, that would be akin to a homeowner stopping payment on a credit card just before getting a home repair loan.
Campbell also added, “There’s no rule that says these companies can’t help. They can put up some money too.”
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