LITTLE ROCK — Entergy Corp., the parent company of Arkansas’ largest electric utility provider, said Tuesday it will cut about 165 jobs in the state as part of plans to lay off 800 workers company-wide.
The layoffs are expected to equal about 5 percent of the company’s total work force and will result in expense savings of $200 million to $250 million by 2016, the company said.
“Difficult decisions like job reductions are sometimes the very tough outcome of making long-term, fundamental improvements in the way a company works,” Entergy Chairman and CEO Leo Denault said. “The redesign process has been comprehensive, thoughtful and focused squarely on being fair to our employees throughout the process and being responsive to the needs of our customers, our employees, our communities and our owners.”
Entergy Arkansas spokeswoman Julie Munsell said layoffs in the state would total about 6 percent of the company’s work force here.
A corporate spokesman for New Orleans-based Entergy said Louisiana will see job cuts of 240, Texas will lose 115, New York 110 and Mississippi will see layoffs of 80 workers. Massachusetts, Michigan and Vermont each will lose about 30 Entergy workers.
Entergy Arkansas President Hugh McDonald said management positions throughout the corporation will bear the brunt of layoffs and that no linemen, journeymen or field supervisors will lose their jobs.
McDonald said specific decisions on who will be laid off in Arkansas are not completely known, though he said severance packages will be provided to those who lose their jobs.
“With things like this, the headline is always the ‘fewer jobs,’ but we’re doing it to better prepare the company long-term, to make sure the savings that result from this can be sustained,” he said in an interview with Arkansas News Bureau content partner TalkBusiness. “That translates into maintaining competitive rates for our customers going forward. This will help that as well.”
Entergy reported second-quarter earnings of $163.7 million, or 92 cents per share, for the three months ended June 30. That compares with $365 million, or $2.06 per share, a year earlier.
Company officials said the year-ago period included favorable tax terms on financing costs for fixing damage to lines and equipment caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Entergy realized a gain of $122 million as a result of the tax ruling.
McDonald said factors impacting the layoffs announced Tuesday included efforts to streamline the company’s business, adjust for changing customer needs and handle rising costs related to capital investments.
The Entergy Arkansas chief said that because of increasing customer demand for more immediate access to information, a call center in Arkansas likely will close by the middle of next year and the company ultimately will outsource some of its customer service efforts to firms with specific new skill sets to adapt to social media and portable electronic devices.