Regulators expand probe of Entergy's rate hikes

LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Electric utility Entergy says it plans to raise rates by nearly 10 percent, and state regulators are asking questions.

The Arkansas Public Service Commission and Attorney General Mike Beebe's staff want last week's planned increase to be included in an ongoing investigation of Entergys 6 percent rate increase last October.

The regulators agree that both increases should be weighed together to see if they expose ratepayers to unnecessary costs.

The attorney general's office says the increases are likely to cause hardship to customers.

Steve Strickland, vice president of regulatory affairs for Entergy Arkansas, said the utility agrees that the two increases should be looked at together, but he declined to comment further.

Based on average use of 1,000 kilowatt hours a month, average Entergy bills would climb from about 90 dollars before October to about 103 dollars after the latest increase.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)