Louisiana Town To Pay $2.5M In Refunds To Utility Customers

VIDALIA, La. (AP) — Utility customers of a central Louisiana town soon will be getting a check in the mail, thanks to a $2.5 million royalty refund approved this week by the mayor and council.

“We approved the refund on Tuesday and we’re going to sit down and finalize the percentages,” said Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft. “Right now, it looks like we will be refunding between 45% and 48% of their utility costs for the last year.”

The Natchez Democrat reported the council approved Craft's recommendation to refund the town's $2.5 million royalty revenues from the Sidney A. Murray Jr. Hydroelectric Station, also known as Louisiana Hydroelectric, in the form of rebates for utility customers.

The royalties are generated by the sale of electricity from the plant between July 1, 2020 and July 30, 2021. The town has received annual royalties on utility sales since the plant went online in 1990. The town has always had the option to refund up to 50% of the utility customers' bills if the funds are available, although refunds have been inconsistent over the years.

The plant sells 94% of the power it generates to Entergy of Louisiana and 6% to the Town of Vidalia, which resells the power to Louisiana Energy Power Authority and buys back only what is needed to provide service to local utility customers, both residential and commercial customers who are not exempted by other incentive plans.

Since 2016, Craft said the council will have refunded a total of $5 million to Vidalia residents, thanks to this year’s royalties. A specific rebate amount expected from this year's royalties was not provided.

“We don’t credit back their utility bills … we send them one check, which makes for a nice Christmas present,” Craft said.

Craft added that providing royalty refunds is important to him and the council members.

“I’m excited for our people and happy for them,” he said. “This is one of the things I promised people we would do, and we’re doing it.”

Vidalia is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, across from Natchez, Mississippi.