Entergy 'Helping Build Arkansas' 100 Years Later (Letter From Hugh McDonald)

One hundred years ago Harvey Couch, the founder of Entergy, was determined to bring dependable, affordable electricity to Arkansans, starting with the state’s first inter-city power line between Arkadelphia and Malvern and a generator fueled by sawdust.

The industry and Arkansas have come a long way in 100 years, and Entergy Arkansas is proud to have played a part in “Helping Build Arkansas,” a phrase Mr. Couch used frequently.

Today, Entergy Arkansas is making its most dramatic transformation since 1913 as it prepares for the next 100 years. As we said we would eight years ago, Dec. 19 Entergy Arkansas will end its participation in the Entergy System Agreement — an agreement that had good intentions but has been the source of three decades of costly litigation and now unnecessary with our move to the Midcontinent Independent Transmission System Operator, or MISO. Our customers will benefit from this move in the form of more reliable and diverse supplies of energy and a savings estimated at a quarter of a billion dollars the first decade.

For Entergy Arkansas and the energy industry, the future holds both challenges and promise. The challenges are significant but manageable. The use of electricity is growing more slowly than it has in decades – many say this is the new norm. In large measure, this is due to more energy-efficient products, services and lifestyles, as well as the company’s promotion of energy conservation programs. The use of competitive distributed generation, like rooftop solar panels, is growing in certain parts of the country and contributing to these slower sales. Our primary obligation, however, hasn’t changed. We must continually provide reliable service and invest in the maintenance and addition of poles, wires, power plants and the rest of the infrastructure that delivers electricity to our customers. In fact, over the next five years we are set to deploy our largest level of infrastructure investment in the company’s history. As we look ahead into the next decade, changes in the industry landscape require reform of our current regulatory framework to better meet these industry challenges.

The promise of the future is all about giving customers more of what they want. Customers expect ever-increasing customized information, including fast and accurate information about outages and restoration times. They want a supplier that will make their life easier while keeping costs affordable. We understand completely, and investing in the technology and talent to meet these customer expectations is our imperative.

As we look back over the last 10 decades, Entergy Arkansas has much for which to be thankful, and much to celebrate. A century in business is a rare achievement, and we know we’d not be at this milestone without those who purchase our product. Lighting three bridges over the Arkansas River is our way of saying thank you to the state and our customers, and we look forward to serving you for the next 100 years.

Hugh McDonald
President & CEO, Entergy Arkansas Inc.