Entergy Mississippi is a public utility company that provides electric power to homes and businesses in forty-five counties in the western half of Mississippi. It is regulated within the state by the Mississippi Public Service Commission, created by the Mississippi legislature in 1956. Now an operating company within the Entergy Corporation system of companies in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, the company was known as the Mississippi Power and Light Company (MP&L) before 1996.
MP&L was chartered in April 1923 by Harvey Couch, an entrepreneur from Little Rock, Arkansas. He selected Jackson, the state capital, as headquarters for the new company. The company’s first initiative was to purchase the municipal utility operations in Jackson, Vicksburg, Columbus, and Greenville. The company later purchased utilities with distribution lines in other large towns and connected them with transmission lines to form an integrated, interconnected electrical system. The transmission system brought service to small towns between the larger ones.
In 1924 MP&L entered into an agreement with the Arkansas Power and Light Company and the Louisiana Power and Light Company—both owned by the Couch interests—to construct a twenty-five-thousand-kilowatt plant near Sterlington in North Louisiana to supply electric power to the three utilities. A transmission line from the plant ran east across the Mississippi River at Vicksburg to supply MP&L.
In July 1925 Couch entered into a consolidation agreement with Electric Bond and Share Company (EBASCO), a subsidiary of General Electric. The agreement combined the two groups of properties into one large, coordinated system owned by Electric Power and Light Corporation, a new subsidiary of EBASCO. With EBASCO’s reservoir of experience and financial expertise, MP&L continued its acquisition program. In 1926 the company was incorporated under Florida law; MP&L did not incorporate under Mississippi law until 1963. The ownership arrangement with Electric Power and Light continued until 1949, when a holding company, Middle South Utilities (MSU), was formed to own the common stock of MP&L, Louisiana Power and Light, Arkansas Power and Light, and New Orleans Public Service. MSU was based in New York City until 1963, when it moved its corporate headquarters to New Orleans. MSU’s formation had been motivated by Congress’s passage of the Holding Company Act of 1935, which stipulated that utilities could only be part of a regional holding company whose subsidiary companies operated in geographically contiguous areas.
In 1926 MP&L sold its operations in Northeast Mississippi to the Mississippi Central Power Company. The following year, MP&L experienced its first major natural disaster, the Great Mississippi River Flood, which put a large portion of the Delta under water. Over the years, MP&L’s infrastructure has suffered costly damage from other natural disasters, among them ice storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
In 1930 MP&L moved to the third floor in the Lampton Building at 308 East Pearl Street in Jackson, an address that became its permanent headquarters. Beginning in the 1940s, MP&L began constructing power plants: Rex Brown Steam Electric Station in Jackson (1946), Natchez Steam Electric Plant in Natchez (1950), Delta Steam Electric Station in Cleveland (1951), Baxter Wilson Steam Electric Station in Vicksburg (1964), and Gerald Andrus Steam Electric Station in Greenville (1971). In 1972, MP&L and its sister MSU companies announced plans to build a 1.29-million-kilowatt nuclear power plant, Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, in Claiborne County near Port Gibson. Grand Gulf Nuclear Unit 1 went online in 1985, and its operation was transferred to MSU’s new nuclear subsidiary, System Energy Resources, the following year.
In 1996 MSU changed its name to Entergy Corporation, and the subsidiary companies were renamed accordingly. At the end of 2014, Entergy Mississippi served 442,000 customers, and Entergy Corporation employed 2,000 people in the state.
- Carroll Brinson, Always a Challenge: Mississippi Power and Light Company’s First Sixty Years (1984)
- Entergy Corporation website, www.entergy.com
- Entergy Mississippi website, www.entergy-mississippi.com