JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has taken the next step in his increasingly contentious fight with power provider Entergy over alleged misconduct and a records request.
Hood filed suit against Entergy Tuesday, charging the company with fraud, unjust enrichment and anti-trust violations. The two sides remain deadlocked on the legality of the Civil Investigative Demands issued by Hood in August.
Entergy, the state's largest energy provider, operates in three other states. Hood feels that Entergy Mississippi is buying gas at an inflated cost from the other Entergy companies, driving prices up for Mississippi consumers.
Entergy called Hood's CIDs a "fishing expedition" and feels the Attorney General's Office has no business investigating utilities.
"It is unfortunate that we must resort to a lawsuit to make Entergy do the right thing and assure its customers they are being treated fairly," Hood said. "Entergy has done everything in its power to defend the indefensible in an attempt to keep these documents hidden."
Last week, the state's Public Service Commission urged the company to turn over the requested records.
Entergy unsuccessfully tried to block the request in federal court. The dispute then moved to Hinds County Chancery Court, where a judge heard arguments in October.
"(Entergy), as well as EMI and the other five Entergy Operating Companies, are the parties to a FERC-regulated rate schedule that provides the basis for the integrated planning, construction and operation of the electrical generating and bulk transmission (and other) facilities," Entergy's federal complaint says.
"(FERC) has exclusive administrative and regulatory jurisdiction over the transmission and sale of electrical energy in interstate commerce."
Hood has said he requested the documents because of Entergy's past in Louisiana and says the state's Consumer Protection Act allows him to investigate.
Entergy agreed to refund $72 million over similar allegations in Louisiana in 2000 and was ordered to pay $34 million to New Orleans customers in February.
"EMI has exploited its position as a monopoly for providing electricity to the western half of the State by, among other things, employing a patchwork of shady accounting mechanisms," Hood's complaint says.
"In short, Entergy gets to 'have its cake and eat it too.' It gets to sell all of the overpriced electricity generated by its archaic plants to its captive retail customers and to prevent those same customers from accessing the benefits of competition from newer, more efficient plants which would otherwise supply them with less expensive electricity."
Entergy recently asked the PSC to approve a plan that would lower its fuel adjustment rate by 14 percent.
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at email@example.com.