Winter storm costs could be passed on to Entergy customers

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -- The winter storm is over but Entergy customers could still be paying for it.

Over 260,000 Entergy Arkansas homes and businesses were put in the dark by the Christmas winter storm. Entergy Arkansas brought in 5,000 workers from 15 states to handle the power outages.Spokesperson Julie Munsell said the cost adds up quickly."Obviously there's costs associated with them being here, the work that they do, the equipment that has to be deployed," Munsell said.That cost may be passed on to Entergy customers, according to Munsell.Although Entergy Arkansas has mutual assistance agreements, the company is now responsible for paying each additional crew member plus lodging, material, food and fuel. The company has $15 million built into its rates annually to cover damage from typical storms, according to Entergy Arkansas' president Hugh McDonald.For perspective, the 2009 ice storm cost $123 million, according to Munsell, and it was $191 million for storms in 2000."It would be purely speculative at this point," Munsell said. "But we do know from some most recent storms that it can be pretty costly."With the Public Service Commission's permission, additional costs can be passed on to the customers.Entergy customers currently see a charge for a little less than $1 on their monthly bill left over from the 2009 ice storm costs. That charge will remain in place until 2020, according to Entergy.If charges from this storm are passed on to customers, the company said it will be done in a similar way that is affordable.