The state Public Service Commission today took the somewhat unusual step of issuing a news release to correct information circulating on Facebook about electric rates.

A message of unknown provenance is being circulated widely that talks about an “Arkansas Energy (electric) Consumption Rate Increase.”  The message says in part: “The state of Arkansas has passed a rate increase for energy consumption rate from 4 percent to 9 percent. they have received enough complaints to review the increase but will not be make [sic] a decision until July.”


Well, no. What’s happened is this. Entergy Arkansas, the biggest electric utility in the state, did impose a rate increase of 3.75 percent beginning Jan. 2.  John Bethel, director of the PSC, said no other electric utility in the state put a rate increase into effect in January.

January was a bad time for a rate increase. It was bitterly cold. That meant higher utility bills, particularly for those heating with gas. The Facebook message encouraged calls to the governor, attorney general and others. Bethel said the PSC issued a statement in the interest of consumers having the right information. (I can imagine the governor, who appoints members of the PSC, would just as soon avoid connection to a higher light bill.)


Said the PSC release:

The Arkansas Public Service Commission is aware of a social media post circulating on Facebook which contains incorrect information and which has resulted in several calls to the Commission and utilities.

The post suggests that the State of Arkansas has passed a single rate increase that applies to all utilities in Arkansas. There is not a single rate or set of rates for all utilities in Arkansas. Each utility’s rates are approved by the Arkansas Public Service Commission in
individual utility-specific rate case proceedings. The Facebook post references an “Arkansas Energy (electric) Consumption Rate Increase.” There is not a single “Arkansas Energy (electric) Consumption Rate.” The Facebook post does not address a specific utility company’s rates or a specific proceeding before the
Arkansas Public Service Commission. There is not a specific proceeding that fits the circumstances presented in the Facebook post.

The Commission is aware that many Arkansas electric and natural gas customers have experienced high bills associated with their consumption during the month of January. Those high bills are due, in large measure, to higher levels of electricity and natural gas consumption as a result of the very cold temperatures
during January. The higher bills for January consumption are not attributable to the circumstances alleged in the inaccurate Facebook post.

Entergy Arkansas, Inc. did implement an increase in its Formula Rate Plan rate adjustment that was approved by the Commission and became effective on January 2, 2018. The effect of this change for a typical customer in the Residential Customer Class using 1,000 kWh per month is an increase of approximately $3.93
per month, or a change of approximately 3.75%. Entergy Arkansas, Inc. will make its annual Formula Rate Plan filing in July to consider any updates for its rates in 2019.