October 10, 2001 — Entergy Arkansas president and CEO Hugh McDonald voiced support for the current timing of the deregulation process in the state despite a recently enacted delay, saying the additional time will help develop the right processes to make retail competition work.
The energy in Arkansas is changing. And an essential element of every Arkansan’s daily life – electric power – will never be the same. Thanks to the diligent work of many diverse entities – the forward-thinking men and women of the Arkansas Legislature, the state Public Service Commission, the Attorney General, industries, municipal electric utilities, rural electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities like Entergy – Arkansas recently became the first state in the Southeast to adopt electric power competition legislation.
On April 15, 1999, Governor Mike Huckabee signed the Electric Consumer Choice Act (Act 1556) into state law. This historic legislation will give Arkansans the power to choose who provides their electricity.
However, the change will come somewhat later than originally planned. Governor Huckabee on, Feb. 20, 2001, signed a bill into law that officially delays the beginning of retail open access in Arkansas. It will now begin no sooner than Oct. 1, 2003 and no later than Oct. 1, 2005.
Senate Bill 236 was in response to a recommendation by the Arkansas Public Service Commission, which Entergy Arkansas supports. The APSC recommended in October to delay competition in Arkansas from the original timeline in Act 1556, which called for competition to begin between Jan. 1, 2002 and July 31, 2003.
Huckabee and lawmakers announced their support January 23 for a measure delaying competition in the electric industry until at least Oct. 1, 2003. Also supporting the measure is Attorney General Mark Pryor, who had earlier backed a call for delaying competition until as late as 2007.
The APSC said in its recommendation that the wholesale electricity markets in the state had not developed as quickly as anticipated, and the systems needed to make retail competition work were not being created quickly enough to meet the initial deadline.
Severe problems with deregulation in California caused legislators concern, even though the two states’ deregulated market structures are quite different.
“We have a good deregulation bill in Arkansas,” said Entergy Arkansas President and CEO Hugh McDonald. “The extension of the timeline will give all the parties involved some welcome additional time to develop the detailed processes for making retail competition work for Arkansans.”