* Entergy, ITC work to complete transmission asset transfer
* Entergy's Arkansas reactor may return to service in Aug
HOUSTON, July 30 U.S. power company Entergy Corp
is mulling the future of its wholesale nuclear operation
and plans to cut 800 jobs to save up to $250 million by 2016,
Chief Executive Officer Leo Denault told investors on Tuesday.
As part of his reorganization plan to simplify Entergy's
corporate structure, Denault said the company is studying
options for its non-utility owned power plants, mainly its aging
nuclear plants operating in the U.S. Northeast which face
falling wholesale prices and a difficult regulatory environment.
"As we consider strategic alternatives for (Entergy
Wholesale), all options are on the table," Denault said.
Denault, who took the reins of New Orleans-based Entergy
earlier this year after the retirement of J. Wayne Leonard,
outlined seven strategic imperatives he said he hopes will make
the company easier "to follow, predict and value."
Denault's top priority is to complete the integration of
Entergy's transmission grid into the Midcontinent Independent
System Operator, or MISO, and to obtain approval of the
divestiture of the transmission assets to ITC Holdings Inc
from state regulators by year end.
The transaction, a spin-off and merger, has received
approval from federal regulators, but regulators in four states
have questioned whether the plan would increase transmission
rates for Entergy customers without providing sufficient
To satisfy state regulators, Entergy's utility units and ITC
are offering a total of $453 million in rate mitigation to
customers to offset ITC's request for a higher rate of return.
"We believe that the benefits for our customers, employees
and communities are real," Denault said. "This rate mitigation
plan puts us and ITC on the hook to deliver them."
Entergy also said its 834-megawatt Unit 1 at its Arkansas
nuclear power plant may return to service in August, several
months ahead of the company's last estimate.
The unit has been shut since late March after an industrial
accident during a refueling outage killed one worker.
The plant is located near Russellville about 75 miles (120
km) northwest of Little Rock.