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Annual adjustments to electric rates charged by Arkansas' four investor-owned electric utilities were announced Tuesday.

The rate changes, primarily to cover the cost of fuel used to power electricity production during the summer months, take effect Sunday, an executive with the Arkansas Public Service Commission said.

Entergy Arkansas customers will see a 3 percent increase in rates for the summer, John Bethel, executive director of the commission's general staff, said Tuesday. That means a customer with a $100 monthly bill now will see a bill of $103 beginning in April. Entergy supplies electricity to about 700,000 customers in 63 counties.

In an unrelated decision reached on Tuesday, the commission approved Entergy's previously announced 18.4 percent reduction in rates in connection with lower federal taxes. That also takes effect Sunday.

The overall adjusted rates mean Entergy's customers will see about a 15.4 percent lower monthly bill, Bethel said.

Entergy worked with various entities, including Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, to pass the benefits of the tax cut to ratepayers, Rick Riley, Entergy Arkansas' chief executive officer, said.

The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in December lowered the maximum federal corporate tax rate this year from 35 percent to 21 percent.

Empire District Electric Co., which has about 4,400 customers in rural Northwest Arkansas, also will have a 3 percent increase in its summer rate. That means a customer with a $100 monthly bill now will see a bill of about $103 beginning next month.

Southwestern Electric Power Co., which has about 116,000 customers in western Arkansas, will have a 1 percent reduction in its summer rate. So a customer with a $100 bill this month will see a bill of about $99 starting next month.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co., which has about 66,000 customers in the Fort Smith area, will see about a 7 percent reduction in rates this summer, beginning with its April bills. So a customer with a $100 bill this month will have a bill of about $93 starting next month.

The reason for the changes, Bethel said, is that the electric utilities with slight increases in their summer rates recovered less in rates than they had expected last summer. Oklahoma Gas & Electric recovered more than it anticipated because of higher sales volume last summer, Bethel said.

The utilities are not allowed to profit from the summer rate changes.

Other investor-owned utilities have several weeks before they are required to determine how the lower tax rate will affect their customers' bills. Those rates aren't expected to take effect until midyear.

Business on 03/28/2018

Print Headline: 4 electric utilities set summer rates

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