‘Katrina Recovery Charge’ paid off; Mississippi Power lowers bills

Print More

Mississippi Today

Mississippi Public Service Commission Chairman Brandon Presley speaks to reporters joined by (from left) commissioner Sam Britton, Mississippi Power CEO Anthony Wilson, State Treasurer Lynn Fitch and commissioner Cecil Brown.

Mississippi Power Co. customers should see slightly lower bills starting Wednesday.

The Mississippi Public Service Commission, Mississippi Power Co. and other agencies announced Tuesday the utility’s removal of a $3.45 fee called the “Hurricane Katrina Systems Recovery Charge” from its customers’ bills.

The utility has paid back state bonds, provided by the Hurricane Katrina Electric Utility Customer Relief and Electric Utility System Restoration Act in 2006, that were meant to cover costs related to repairing damage of electric utility systems in the state caused by Hurricane Katrina.

According to a Mississippi Power Co. statement, the utility’s uninsured losses following the 2005 storm were more than $300 million.

The Mississippi Legislature in 2006 took care of $121 million, while Federal Community Development Block Grants handled the rest of its restoration costs, the utility said.

“We are lessening the burden for the taxpayers,” State Treasurer Lynn Fitch said Tuesday at a news conference at the Woolfolk State Office Building in Jackson. “It’s exciting. We’re doing our jobs.”

Mississippi Public Service Commission Chairman Brandon Presley said the bond was able to keep the utility’s rates stable and as low as possible. He said if state bonds were not issued to pay for the damage, the company likely would have had to raise rates much higher.

The original length of the payback period was 12 years, but Mississippi Power Co. asked the Public Service Commission to remove the monthly charge nearly two years early.

The power company has 186,000 customers in 23 counties from the Gulf Coast to Meridian.

Entergy Mississippi in September announced it would take away a 74-cent charge to rate payers that went toward Katrina-related restoration efforts since those costs also were paid off. Entergy customers saw a slight decrease on their bills starting in October.

“This completes the bond program from both of our major electric utilities who were so damaged by Katrina,” Presley said. “This actually helps us turn the page and close the chapter.”