Jan 6, 2010 11:05 AM by Associated Press

2 Entergy units short of having enough money to eventually close nuclear plants

Two Louisiana power utilities owned by Entergy Corp. are short $235.5 million for the projected costs of eventually closing two nuclear generating plants - and the power provider wants slight increases in customer rates to close the gap.

According to a Tuesday filing with the Louisiana Public Service Commission, Entergy Louisiana said it needs an additional $68.2 million to meet the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission's demand for a $400.2 million decommissioning fund for the Waterford 3 plant at Taft.

Entergy Gulf States Louisiana said it needs an additional $167.3 million for an NRC-required fund of $378.8 million for the eventual closing of the River Bend nuclear plant at St. Francisville. That utility owns 70 percent of River Bend.

The filing requests that Entergy Louisiana customers pay $10.3 million toward the Waterford fund annually, up from the current $2.2 million. Entergy Gulf States Louisiana customers, who don't currently contribute to the decommissioning fund, would pay $9.67 million a year.

Entergy spokesman Philip Allison said Tuesday that if the PSC agrees with the utilities, Entergy Gulf States' residential customers would pay an additional 84 cents per 1,000 kilowatt hours, while Entergy Louisiana's residential customers would pay an additional 41 cents per 1,000 kilowatt hours.

The NRC determines how much a utility needs for each eventual nuclear plant closure based on a complicated formula.

"This is to put us into federal compliance," Allison said. "It's not something we came up with."

The PSC is expected to discuss the filing on Jan. 13.

The filing said the two funds are now short of what the NRC wants partially because of the fall in financial markets, where the money had been placed in hopes of growing the funds through investment returns.

Another problem, the filing said, is that the PSC uses a 60-year plant life for ratemaking, but the NRC calculates the needed decommissioning funds based upon current 40-year operating licenses. As a result, the 60-year calculation will not produce enough money for a 40-year lifespan, the Entergy units said.

Entergy Louisiana has 669,000 customers, while Entergy Gulf States Louisiana has 361,000 customers. The filing does not affect customers of the company's other Louisiana unit, Entergy New Orleans.



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