The Louisiana Public Service Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve the first phase of a project to join the Midwest Independent Service Organization (MISO), a movement towards a method of regionalized management of transmission of electricity and towards greater participation in a free-market approach to the purchase of electrical power.

“MISO operates a market center that facilitates the buying and selling of electricity on a two-day to two-minute market availability and creates a powerful competitive market for industry participants,” Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta said.

MISO, which also oversees transmission planning and construction for its members, is the nation’s first regional transmission organization and one of its largest.

“Consumers are one step closer to greater savings on their utility bills,” said Skrmetta. “Subject to carefully considered conditions, the proposed integration into MISO is expected to occur in December 2013.”

A May 2011 analysis showed that joining MISO is expected to result in net benefits to ratepayers of Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Gulf States of $430 million to $575 million on a net present value basis over the next 10 years. The projected savings are largely attributable to MISO’s organized power markets, which allow MISO to optimize the dispatch of all generating units within its area, whether owned by the Entergy operating companies or other MISO members. The addition of the Entergy operating companies to its membership, MISO will stretch from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

“As the LPSC representative to the Entergy Regional States Committee, I have worked with our staff for more than 15 months on this proposal and am satisfied that we have focused on planning an effective strategy for participating in a regional transmission organization,” Skrmetta said. “We have also ensured that jurisdictional oversight will play a part in the regional management of the program. The purpose of joining MISO is improve reliability, reduce transmission congestion and stabilize/lower costs for consumers,” Skrmetta said.

“The LPSC has taken the first step among the five regional component jurisdictions of Entergy and we hope the City of New Orleans as well as the States of Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas will join us in this move towards greater savings and efficiency for rate payers,” Skrmetta said.

“Unlike the massive rate increase issues facing other competing Regional Transmission Organizations in the Eastern Atlantic States, MISO is composed of 95 percent state-regulated members and includes a free-market structure,” Skrmetta said. “As a regulator, I am focused on ensuring that the public is protected from artificial price increases and that the consumer has the greatest access to the free market system.”

For more information about Commissioner Skrmetta, visitwww.EricSkrmetta.com or find him on Facebook.  Consumers can also contact him at 1-800-228-9368.