Entergy Corp. racked up $10 billion in revenues last year and has $29 billion in collective assets. On paper, there is no question Entergy could comfortably cover its losses and rebuild the infrastructure of its utility business in New Orleans. On May 2, Entergy announced that its first-quarter profit rose nearly 13 percent, as higher energy prices offset disrupted sales following last year's hurricanes. Entergy CEO J. Wayne Leonard received a $1.1 million bonus at the end of 2005, according to SEC records, which coincidentally works out to one dollar per Entergy customer in the Gulf Coast left without power in the weeks following the hurricane.
But the company’s executives feel that if anyone should pay the cost of its getting back into business, it should be ratepayers and taxpayers, and not its own shareholders. And indeed, the government may have little choice but to give in to what critics characterize as blackmail or extortion – or leave a major American metropolis powerless.