FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jackson, MS-Despite media reports to the contrary, Entergy CEO J. Wayne Leonard has collected $54.6 million in salary and other compensation over the past three years, during a time when his customers are suffering through the worst economic decline since the Great Depression, Attorney General Jim Hood said today.
Leonard’s company, meanwhile took in revenue of $13 billion in 2008, amid recent fraud charges by the state of Mississippi that Entergy has engaged in pricing schemes that have resulted in its customers being overcharged for power.
“The average Mississippian cannot even comprehend a $54 million payday, let alone ever see a fraction of that kind of money in a lifetime,” said Attorney General Hood. “Yet, every month, these customers pull out their wallets and faithfully and trustingly pay their electric bills to a company that apparently just sends a big portion of their hard-earned money back to its CEO.”
The Associated Press, in an April 2, 2009, story, reported that Leonard earned $8.2 million in 2008. AP, using regulatory filings from the Securities and Exchange Commission, relied on its own questionable formula that isolated parts of that compensation. In fact, according to Entergy’s April 1, 2009, filing with the SEC (Schedule 14A, “Executive Compensation Tables”, Page 28), Leonard received compensation valued at $13.6 million in 2008; $26.1 million in 2007; and $14.7 million in 2006. Leonard’s base salary in 2008 was $1.27 million. The remaining compensation is based on company performance, meaning the more profitable the company, the more profitable J. Wayne Leonard.
Leonard also received perks such as personal use of corporate aircraft, “executive physicals” and free financial counseling.
“Entergy’s customers should not be misled about the astronomical compensation packages being afforded company executives such as J. Wayne Leonard,” said Attorney General Hood. “Facts are facts, and the SEC filings don’t lie. So when Entergy officials go before our Public Service Commission, insisting that the company has not been treated fairly and needs additional ‘rate adjustments’ from its customers, it’s a difficult story to swallow.”
(In January, Entergy claimed that the PSC had violated the company’s “constitutional rights” and caused the company’s rates to not yield a “fair, just and reasonable rate of return” by denying a $3.7 million rate adjustment.)
As for Entergy’s $13 billion in 2008 revenue, General Hood noted that, using profits earned from the ratepayers of Mississippi and other states, the company has generated enough cash to re-purchase $3.2 billion in common stock from its shareholders from 2005-2008—a boon to both its shareholders and its executives.
Just three months ago, Entergy admitted to overcharging Mississippi ratepayers and to engaging in part of the same pricing scheme it used in Louisiana, where it was ultimately forced to pay back $106 million to its customers. Entergy first denied the charges, then admitted that it was mistaken when it stated that power produced through its Evangeline (Louisiana) gas contract had not been sold through the Entergy System Exchange to Entergy Mississippi. Then the company tried to convince ratepayers that the effect on their pocketbooks was minimal at best.
Since last year, General Hood has tried to convince Entergy to turn over documents about its business practices to shed some light on the way in which it operates. Entergy refused every request. As a last resort, the Attorney General’s Office was forced to file a lawsuit against Entergy in December on behalf of the State, charging the company with fraud, unjust enrichment, anti-trust violations and other illegal conduct. The case is currently pending.
“As a public utility, Entergy has a duty to provide its customers with power at the lowest possible price,” said Attorney General Hood. “Thus far, the evidence indicates that Entergy executives, not ratepayers, are the ones receiving the benefits of one of the most profitable public companies in the Southeast.”