Entergy gets limited OK to switch power systems


LITTLE ROCK — Nearly a year after Entergy Arkansas’ formal request, the state Public Service Commission on Friday gave tacit approval for the state’s largest electric utility to exit a power system agreement with its parent company.

In a 33-page order, the PSC said Entergy Arkansas and its preferred system partner, the Midwest Independent Operating System, had complied or substantially complied with conditions to move forward on a limited basis with integrating their systems.

The utility regulator referred to one “exception.” It sought clarity on a vote involving how transmission planning and cost allocation will be determined. The PSC cited two conflicting proposals for the condition and asked for assurances about the details of the issue.

In August, the PSC raised more than a dozen concerns regarding Entergy’s proposed move to MISO, which is aiming for closure before December 2013.

MISO, headquartered in Carmel, Ind., coordinates electricity movement across an 11-state grid and is expected to provide Entergy with an advanced system for electricity trading that could benefit its transmission operations. Little Rock-based Southwest Power Pool, which operates across a nine-state grid, had hoped and was pushing for Entergy to join its transmission coordination outfit.

The bottom line is that Entergy Arkansas has as close to a green light as it can get to continue efforts to become a stand-alone organization, separate from its parent company in respect to cost-sharing and transmission planning.

“Today is a major step forward for electric customers throughout Arkansas and all of the Entergy service area,” MISO chief executive John Bear said. “The APSC laid out a series of conditions for MISO to address, and through collaborative discussions with stakeholders in the MISO and Entergy region, we were able to meet those conditions.”

Entergy has estimated it could save as much as $263 million over a 10-year period as part of the MISO system.

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Arkansas News Bureau business columnist Roby Brock contributed to this report.