Entergy's MISO Move Finishes as Company Celebrates its 100th Anniversary

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013 12:00 am  

On Thursday, Entergy Arkansas Inc. will celebrate its 100th birthday by switching on hundreds of LED lights adorning three of the bridges crossing the Arkansas River in Little Rock.

Just a few hours earlier, the company will add to its history by completing a two-year, $36.2 million transition into a regional transmission operator. It will also exit its system agreement, otherwise known as the glue holding all of the Entergy operating companies together.

This “cutover,” as Entergy terms it, will see MISO — the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator Inc. of Carmel, Ind. — assume operation of all of Entergy’s transmission lines.

Entergy’s responsibilities will shift entirely to power generation and distribution. Also, thanks to exiting the system agreement, the company will not have to alter utility bills due to disparate energy costs between the other operating companies.

The change is projected to save Arkansas ratepayers $263 million over 10 years.

So what’s left for Entergy to do between now and Thursday?

“Well, frankly, not a whole lot,” said Kurt Castleberry, Entergy Arkansas’ director of resource planning and market operations. “We’re focused right now on the cutover.”

Castleberry said three meetings with MISO and other entities joining the system operator were being held last week and this week “where we’ll kind of do a rehearsal of the cutover plan…But we’ve accomplished a whole lot, and we don’t see any obstacles standing in our way to prevent the MISO cutover at 11 p.m. on Dec. 18.”

Video: Click to see a sneak peek of the new LED lights on the Arkansas River bridges.

But there have been obstacles during the past two years. Little Rock’s own Southwest Power Pool, for example, was originally considered to serve as Entergy’s transmission operator and objected when Entergy chose MISO, a larger and older but decidedly less local option.

Not to mention the approvals needed to allow the transition. The move had to be green-lighted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Public Service Commissions of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, and it certainly wasn’t guaranteed to succeed. Another transmission-related move Entergy was attempting, for example, was recently shot down by the Mississippi Public Service Commission. (See Up With MISO, Down With ITC.)

“Each of the regulatory agencies had to approve it,” said Hugh McDonald, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas. “In Arkansas, the commission was very thorough in their evaluation of our proposal. I think their final approval was last April and we had the other commissions’ approval prior to that.”



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