By MELINDA DESLATTE,  Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — More than 1 million Entergy Louisiana customers will see their utility bills drop this month after the debts from repairing and restoring service after hurricanes Katrina and Rita have been paid.

The company says residential customers will see monthly charges drop in the range of about $2.57 to $4.35 based on average usage of 1,000 kilowatt-hours, depending on where they live.

Louisiana's utility regulators praised the announcement Wednesday.

After the storms, Louisiana officials created a quasi-state government agency for Entergy to borrow $1 billion to pay for utility restoration. Bonds were sold to get upfront cash, and that bond debt was paid off through surcharges on customers' bills.

The surcharges began in August 2008 and were paid off over 10 years.

The approach came with lower borrowing costs than traditional financing methods.

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