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Entergy Corp (NYSE:ETR)
Q4 2020 Earnings Call
Feb 24, 2021, 11:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to Entergy's Fourth Quarter 2020 Earnings Release and Teleconference. [Operator Instructions]

I would now like to hand the call over to David Borde, Vice President of Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

David Borde -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Thank you. Good morning and thank you for joining us. We will begin today with comments from Entergy's Chairman and CEO, Leo Denault; and then Drew Marsh, our CFO will review results. In an effort to accommodate everyone who has questions, we request that each person ask no more than one question and one follow-up.

In today's call, management will make certain forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from these forward-looking statements due to a number of factors which are set forth in our earnings release, our slide presentation and our SEC filings. Entergy does not assume any obligation to update these forward-looking statements.

Management will also discuss non-GAAP financial information. Reconciliations to the applicable GAAP measures are included in today's press release and slide presentation, both of which can be found on the Investor Relations section of our website.

And now I will turn the call over to Leo.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, David, and good morning everyone. Before I turn to my remarks, I would like to give you an update on the winter storms we experienced last week. Severe weather conditions affected most of the country including our service area. In order to balance the system, MISO directed us to conduct rolling power outages. Our system is back to normal operations. Our thoughts are with all of our customers and communities who were impacted by the weather. Our employees once again demonstrated their dedication by working around the clock in difficult conditions to quickly restore service where needed. As always, I am grateful and humbled by their commitment.

We are still working through our numbers, but our preliminary assessment of the cost is approximately $125 million to $140 million associated with mobilizing crews and restoring power, and approximately $400 million of incremental fuel costs. We have fuel recovery mechanisms in all of our jurisdictions and we will work with our regulators to recover these costs in a manner that mitigates the impact on customer bills.

I will now turn to our discussion on 2020. Today, we are reporting strong results for another successful year. Our adjusted earnings per share is $5.66, that's in the top half of our guidance range. We achieved these results by overcoming revenue challenges with our Flexible Spending program. We just set a goal to reduce 2020 cost by $100 million and we exceeded that target by approximately 50%. Underlying our strong performance was the foundation that we have built over the last several years. We've become a resilient organization, prepared to create sustainable value for all our stakeholders even in extraordinary times. That's what our stakeholders expect from us and that's what it takes to be The Premier Utility.

Challenges are a natural part of doing business. No company is immune and Entergy is no exception as 2020 proved the test of sustainability is less about challenges and more about how we are able to achieve our goals regardless of the circumstances. Because of this solid foundation in our proven track record, we are confident in our continued success in 2021 and beyond. As such we are initiating 2021 guidance and affirming our longer-term outlooks, all in line with what we shared in Analyst Day last September.

In 2020 we brought online four large generation resources that are cleaner and more efficient than our older assets, providing customer savings and environmental benefits that will help us meet our sustainability commitments. These assets also give us dispatch flexibility that is important for system reliability. Renewable energy is also a key part of our strategy to achieve our sustainability goals. Our clean energy efforts have escalated over the past few years.

We now have more than 500 megawatts of renewable resources in operation. These resources come in many forms, small and large, owned and contracted. And some are innovative solutions like the New Orleans Residential Rooftop project, where we own the solar systems that are installed at low income customers homes. Those customers get a fixed credit on their bill, providing economic benefits to those who need it and renewable energy for all customers. We have approximately 450 megawatts of solar projects currently being installed. We have another 880 megawatts of solar resources either in regulatory review or RFPs, and we plan to solicit another 800 megawatts of solar this year. This is only the beginning, and we will continue to grow the number of renewable energy facilities across our region.

Almost half of our capital was -- for distribution and utility support investments that are closest to the customer experience. A portion of these cost is for our advanced meter project. We have now completed the installation of 70% of the 3 million advanced meters we are deploying across our service area. This is an exciting milestone as we enter the final phase of our three-year journey. Advanced meters help our customers better manage their energy usage and bills and it lays the foundation for new technological capabilities over time. With billions of real-time data points available, we'll be able to gain new insights that will drive fundamental change in the way we serve our customers, while consuming the least amount of energy resources.

We invested $800 million in our transmission infrastructure excluding storms. Our transmission investments benefit our system and our customers as they reduce congestion, strengthen service reliability, enhance system efficiency and resiliency and support economic development in our jurisdictions, by enabling service to new customers. We completed several important projects, some of which proved critical during the active storm season. These new structures built to modern standards, which stood the record wins from Hurricane Laura and were critical to restoring power following that storm. These projects are all part of our plan to improve the resiliency of our infrastructure and provide a higher level of service to our customers.

In 2020, we continued to work collaboratively with our regulators for the benefit of customers. In the face of difficult times due to COVID-19, we collaborated to find solutions. Early on, we suspended disconnects and worked to set payment plans for customers who couldn't pay their bills. In all our jurisdictions, we received accounting orders, deferred cost associated with COVID-19, including bad debt expense from accounts that we don't expect to collect as a result of the pandemic. We also work with our commissions on rate recovery mechanisms. They give us the opportunity to recover costs that are benefiting our customers. Public Utility Commission of Texas finalized the new generation rider, which provides for full and timely recovery of capital costs associated with new generation, where timely recovery helps us create value for our stakeholders in Texas and ensures that the communities we serve remain economically competitive.

The Texas Commission approved the use of this rider earlier this year for recovery of Montgomery County Power Station. The City Council of New Orleans approved the unanimous settlement that resolved Entergy New Orleans rate case and FRP filing. We will make the first of three annual FRP filings later this year. We also had annual FRP rate actions in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. We plan to submit filings in Louisiana and Texas in the first quarter of this year and in New Orleans in the second quarter to request recovery of 2020 storm costs. As we have done in the past, we will seek to securitize these costs. With current low interest rates, this will result in significantly lower cost to customers as compared to typical recovery. Louisiana and Arkansas FRPs expire with the 2020 filings and we've requested renewal of both. Discussions are ongoing and we will provide updates as we get them.

In spite of the positive outcomes in 2020, the Arkansas Commission's order for our 2021 FRP rate change fell short of our expectations. We believe the order incorrectly applies the law and results in an unreasonable outcome. We requested a rehearing on the Commission's order and we expect to receive their decision on our request and the FRP extension by March 15. You should note that our guidance and outlooks today reflect the Commission's December order, in extension of the FRP.

Our leadership in sustainability and environmental stewardship has been a long-standing hallmark of who we are and has led to measurable undeniable results. For the past two decades, our emissions rate has been well below the sector average. Our utility CO2 emissions rate has decreased nearly 40% since 2000 and today, we operate one of the cleanest large-scale power generation fleets in the nation. Our fleet is one of the cleanest as we have not only set meaningful reduction targets, but we continue to exceed them. The most recent example is our Environment 2020 goal, where we committed to maintain carbon dioxide emissions through 2020 at 20% below year 2000 levels. Our actual 2020 emissions were 27% below 2000 levels, beating our reduction goal by 33%.

Looking ahead, our business plan supports our 2030 commitment to reduce our utility carbon emissions rate by 50% below year 2000 levels. Achieving this objective, calls for continued transformation of our portfolio. To that end, by 2030, we anticipate that our generation portfolio will include at least 5 gigawatts of renewables with the potential for more. During that timeframe, we also plan to deactivate approximately 4 gigawatts of legacy gas, along with the remainder of our coal assets. Going forward, we will not build any large-scale generation that isn't hydrogen capable.

As we transform our portfolio, we will work with our regulators to do so within a framework that balances reliability, affordability and environmental stewardship while enriching the economies of the communities we serve. To support our longer term net zero goal, we're exploring emerging technologies through a partnership with Mitsubishi Power. We will develop innovative solutions that include large scale battery storage, carbon capture and sequestration and hydrogen based strategies. While we are not relying on hydrogen to meet our 2030 commitment, we believe it will be a part of creating a carbon free future. Hydrogen is an important technology that will allow utilities to adopt much greater levels of renewables to meet growing sustainability needs. Hydrogen storage, transportation and utilization attributes will allow us to leverage today's pipeline in generation technologies in a manner that supports a highly reliable and fuel diverse electric grid.

In the Gulf South, we have a distinct locational advantage and we are uniquely positioned given the existing hydrogen infrastructure in Texas and Louisiana. Existing infrastructure today in our service territory includes more than 3.5 billion cubic feet of hydrogen capacity. Two of the three hydrogen salt caverns operating in the United States and more than 1,100 miles of hydrogen pipelines, which is 60% of the United States infrastructure. In addition, two of the largest hydrogen producers in the world are our customers. We also have more than 860 miles of CO2 pipelines in our service area, which would facilitate carbon capture and sequestration. These are just a few of the advantages for our service area which presents us with unique opportunities.

To advance our work on hydrogen, we are working on a few projects that I'd like to share. Orange County Power Station was selected in Entergy Texas' request for proposals. That facility will have the capability upon commercial operation to utilize up to 30% hydrogen. Longer term, the turbines can be configured to operate on up to 100% hydrogen at modest incremental cost. The facility is conveniently located near existing hydrogen pipeline infrastructure that can be connected to the plant to utilize hydrogen when feasible and economic. We own a storage facility with three caverns. We are evaluating converting one of these caverns to hydrogen. We are taking advantage of the existing hydrogen pipeline infrastructure in the Texas industrial corridor near the Orange County Power Station. And we are developing a four phase plan to support access to hydrogen fuel across our fleet of hydrogen capable plants.

We are also in the very early stages of developing a green hydrogen demonstration plant, Montgomery County hydrogen innovation center. This project will teach us important lessons about electrolysis operations and ultimately lay the groundwork for future full-scale projects. We are excited about these projects in our collaboration with Mitsubishi as we lead our industry to make hydrogen a reality that will create green jobs in the Gulf South region. We will provide updates on these initiatives as we have new developments.

Being The Premier Utility means doing our part to create a more sustainable future for our customers, our communities and the world. The goal we continuously strive for in everything we do. In 2020 we are once again named the Dow Jones -- to the Dow Jones Sustainability North American Index. We are the only electric utility to receive this honor 19 years in a row. We are very proud of this recognition as DJSI is one of the most respected independent sustainability measures in the world. We earned perfect scores in the areas of climate strategy, water-related risks, materiality, environmental reporting, social reporting and policy influence.

This past year, our employees demonstrated once again why Entergy is best-in-class in storm response. During the storm season, unlike any other in our history, our commitment to health, safety and preparedness is one of our proudest achievements. Our teams worked around the clock to safely restore service, to rebuild infrastructure and to help our communities recover while following virus prevention protocols. For our employees extraordinary efforts, we received broad support from local, state and federal officials. We also received five emergency response awards from EEI. This marks the 23rd consecutive year EEI has recognized Entergy employees for their emergency response.

2020 was another successful year for our company. Everything we accomplished gives me confidence in our ability to meet our goals and commitments going forward. We've proven that we are a resilient company, prepared to respond to adversity and deliver on our mission to create sustainable value for our stakeholders. It's what our stakeholders expect from us and that's what it takes to be The Premier Utility.

Despite obstacles imposed by the pandemic, mild weather and storms, our employees found ways to connect, innovate, drive growth and build toward the future, all while meeting our financial commitments. The fundamentals of our company are strong and the drivers that uniquely position us to be The Premier Utility remain firmly in place. We consistently meet or exceed our guidance expectations, we have line of sight on 5% to 7% adjusted EPS growth, and by the end of the year we expect the same for our dividend growth rate subject to Board approval. And as we mature in our continuous improvement efforts, we aspire to permanently reduce O&M costs and redeploy those resources for the benefit of our stakeholders. I am as excited as ever about our future.

I will now turn the call over to Drew to review our financial performance.

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Leo. Good morning, everyone. Today, we are reporting strong results for 2020. As Leo mentioned, we successfully managed lower revenues by lowering our O&M expense by approximately $150 million, which exceeded our $100 million cost reduction target for the year. Our results today are validation of the strong resilient company we are. As a result, we are confident in our continued success going forward and are initiating our guidance and affirming our longer-term outlooks.

I'll begin with a review of results for the full year and then provide an overview of guidance for 2021. Starting on Slide 6. Entergy adjusted EPS for 2020 was $5.66, $0.26 higher than 2019 and the top half of our guidance range. Moving to Slide 7. There were many drivers that are straightforward and laid out in the release, but the key area of focus for us in 2020 was O&M. We offset the negative impact of storms, COVID-19 and unfavorable weather with approximately $150 million of cost reductions, and to do this, we identified a number of cost-cutting measures early in the year and deliberately executed on our plan. Slide 8, list some of the actions taken. We are proud of what we've accomplished yet, we are not surprised. Our employees have built the culture, processes and resources to successfully deliver on our commitments to all of our stakeholders, even during extraordinary times and that's been important this year more than ever. Our results further strengthen our confidence in our success going forward as we affirm our earnings expectations from '21 through '23.

The results for EWC summarized on Slide 9 are generally in line with our expectations and we continue to make good progress on our exit of that business. Full-year operating cash flow shown on Slide 10 was approximately $2.7 billion. As you would expect storm costs were a large driver, as were lower collections due to COVID-19, decreased collections for fuel and purchase power costs and unfavorable weather also affected the metric. Lower unprotected excess ADIT returned to customers partly offset the decrease.

Our cash and credit metrics as of the end of the year are shown on Slide 11. Our parent debt to total debt is 21.6% and our FFO to debt is 10.3%. As we mentioned last quarter, our FFO to debt is temporarily lower in part due to the financial impacts from the storms. We expect the metric to return to target levels as we receive storm securitization proceeds next year. As you know, we have strong precedent for storm cost recovery and we have plan to submit initial filings over the next few weeks. We also pursue off balance sheet treatment in Louisiana and Texas. We remain committed to maintaining our investment grade profile and the supporting credit targets including at or above 15% for FFO to debt next year and below 25% for parent debt to total debt.

Moving to Slide 12, with the resiliency we've demonstrated in 2020, we are confident in our continued success in 2021 and beyond. Our 2021 adjusted EPS guidance range is $5.80 to $6.10, and our current plan puts us firmly at the $5.95 midpoint. This and our 2022 and 2023 outlook ranges remain the same as the outlook we presented at Analyst Day. We continue to target a 5% to 7% annual growth rate for adjusting -- for adjusted earnings per share. We also expect to grow our dividend commensurate with our EPS growth rate starting in the fourth quarter of this year subject to final Board approval.

On Slide 11, excuse me, on Slide 13, going backwards. We've outlined a few of the key drivers for 2021 earnings growth. We also include more detailed assumption in the appendix of the webcast presentation. Beginning with the top line a full year of 2020 rate activity following significant investments to benefit customers will contribute to 2021s growth. We will also make annual FRP filings during the year. We project utility O&M, a little under $2.7 billion in line with our disclosures from Analyst Day. Depreciation expense is expected to increase and net interest is expected to decrease due to lower AFUDC as new plants came online in 2020. We also anticipate that our effective income tax rate will be higher. Our guidance and outlook to reflect the December APSC order in Arkansas and assume an FRP extension in both Arkansas and Louisiana. In Arkansas, we are reprioritizing our O&M and capital investments to more closely align with the ordered recovery structure. To the extent the order is reversed, we will plan to readjust our O&M and capital to deliver the customer benefits that those investments would produce. While we continue to monitor risks, we have already identified Flexible Spending levers in the event needed and we are also exploring permanent upside opportunities through solar investments and further continuous improvement.

As Leo mentioned, 2020 was a strong year for our company. We exceeded our $100 million cost reduction target and delivered on our commitments to each of our four key stakeholders in the midst of unprecedented times. Looking ahead, the fundamentals that underlie our steady predictable growth are strong. Our guidance and outlooks remain the same as we presented at Analyst Day and provide clear line of sight to the 5% to 7% adjusted EPS growth rate. We have among the lowest retail rates in the country and our solid strategic, operational and financial plans will upgrade the service level that we provide to our customers. Our proven and disciplined Flexible Spending program, helps us adapt financial headwinds or tailwinds, so we can meet our financial commitments and in the fourth quarter of this year we expect to grow our dividend commensurate with our 5% to 7% EPS growth rate.

We have significant opportunities ahead and we are well positioned to be The Premier Utility. Before turning the call over to Q&A, I want to take a moment to acknowledge and thank David Borde for his great work as Vice President of Investor Relations. He has built solid relationships with all of you and the good news is he will not go far. He will work with Rod to help bring our vision of the future utility to life. And for the next few weeks, he will reach out to many of you to introduce Bill Abler, who is taking over leadership of the Investor Relations team. Bill has a strong commercial background in both commodities and utilities and he will be an excellent representative for us with you. And as you know, both David and Bill are backed by a very strong team with disciplined processes. So you should not expect any change in the level of service you will see from us there.

And now the Entergy team is available to answer questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Jeremy Tonet with JPMorgan. Your line is open.

Ryan -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Hi guys. This is actually Ryan on for Jeremy.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Hey, Ryan.

Ryan -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Just want to kind of start off with kind of the order in Arkansas, and you guys were very clear about reaffirming the guidance and potential assets with capital and O&M. I just wanted to kind of dig a little bit more on kind of what some of those offsets you're thinking about Arkansas to kind of offset this potential negative order? And then if you kind of get a positive kind of outcome on the rehearing, should we be thinking about maybe top end of the range for 2021?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

This is Drew, I'll take that and then Rod can provide any other framework elements as needed. So we are adjusting as I mentioned in my comments, we are adjusting our O&M and capital to prepare for or respond to I guess the order that we got in December. And you can see that in some of our capital disclosures. There is some other just normal tightening capital always moving around some of the jurisdictions, but the main thing is in Arkansas. That's the primary thing that we are taking action to adjust with.

In terms of potential upside, as I also said in my remarks, to the extent that we are able to get the order reversed, we would anticipate putting most, if not all -- depends on what the order would say, back into our capital plan, so that our customers can benefit from the capital and O&M that we are planning to deploy in Arkansas. So that's what's going on there.

Ryan -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Okay, it makes sense. And then just as a follow-up, obviously the stock price has kind of been at depressed levels recently. Just wondering if you've got any thoughts on what's required to get the stock moving or reassure market confidence? And then if it stays at depressed levels, if you'd think about any type of transaction that may be sell them in some of your utilities to maybe offset some of the equity needs going forward?

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Well, I'll start and I'll let Drew talk about the last part of that Ryan. But the best thing we can do is continue as we have over the last several years to continue to execute to meet our commitments to our customers, and to meet our commitments to all of you, which just means being disciplined about our capital and O&M spend, about where it is and what level it is, continue to improve the level of service that our customers receive from us and continue to hit or exceed the numbers that we committed to all of you. And that's what we intend to do.

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

And then I'll just talk about M&A and sales of possible portions of utilities. Certainly of course, we are always open to anything that would be value creating for our stakeholders, which is always our number one rule in M&A anyway is that we would want to make sure that we're creating value for our stakeholders. Other considerations are execution and distraction from the things that we are doing to further create value for our stakeholders already under way. The second one is probably the one that makes it perhaps a little bit challenging for us in the sense of trying to do that for equity raises, because we would likely require approval from regulatory commissions in order to do any sort of M&A activity at the OpCo's and so while we might be able to find good value, if we were counting on that for an equity raise and we had to go through the regulatory process that would create a lot of uncertainty in that equity rate. So it's probably not the best path for us, but certainly if there is value creation opportunity out there, then we would be looking at it.

Ryan -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

That sounds good. I appreciate the color and that's it from me. Thanks guys.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks.

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Stephen Byrd with Morgan Stanley. Your line is open.

Stephen Byrd -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Hey, good morning.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning.

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Good morning Stephen.

Stephen Byrd -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Just wanted to I guess, step back and talk about the impacts to the system from just really unprecedented weather impacts that you all noted. As you think about sort of lessons learned from Texas and just from your other utility businesses, I know you're spending a lot on making your systems more resilient, but are the lessons learned sort of resulting in potential for further other acceleration spending or changes to plans? Whether it be generation plans, renewables plans, etc. Or is this just consistent with your overall focus on resiliency in these recent data points? Just kind of reaffirm sort of the existing approach that you're taking.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Well, I guess I'll start on and let the others chime in. But, Stephen, certainly every event that occurs has unique attributes that allow us to have lessons that we learn. And so whether it's the hurricanes or tropical storms, Harvey is different than Laura, for example, in terms of what the impact it had on reasonably similar areas of our service territory. And what we've experienced, obviously, we're still in the process of getting the lessons learned about the events that we saw last week. So we always -- I wouldn't say that it's inconsistent with the plans we have for resiliency, but certainly, every time we go through any kind of event, we will learn something that we will apply to the next events. So there are things we learned in Katrina that have really served us well for every event that occurred after that, both in terms of what we do to our system and how our capital shapes up but also as well as our processes and our operations and our interactions with the industry, etc.

So there will be lessons learned and they will direct our activities potentially differently. I wouldn't say that it's going to create an incremental capital spend or anything like that. It's potentially redirection of it. Now, it could provide some incremental capital spend, if when working with our regulators they determine -- we jointly determine that there are things that we need to do more quickly than we otherwise would have done, but I wouldn't say right now that there is some anticipation of a change in the size of the capital plan going forward because of these events. Might be a change in direction for some things just to prioritize differently, but everything is a learning experience and we'll continue to do that, and as I said -- events of last week, we're still unpacking everything there.

Stephen Byrd -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

That's helpful. Maybe just one last from me. Just on the nuclear operations, just curious, more broadly, how are you feeling in terms of operational progress, performance? Just trends and any recent developments there or is it sort of fairly consistent with prior messaging there?

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

In the majority, it's consistent with where we've been. I would say that we continue to work with Grand Gulf. We have some work to continue to do there to get that plant into the space where we want it to be, but majority of it is on track.

Stephen Byrd -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Understood. And the Grand Gulf work, is that sort of just general operational improvements? How would you sort of highlight the work needed there?

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

In the equipment reliability space for the most part, as you know, we've gone through a couple of major outages with big equipment modifications. The most recent equipment modification, the turbine control system, we've had some issues coming out of that outage with some of the equipment associated with that modification. So we're going to continue to work through those, get those knocked out and get the plant up to the level of excellence that we desire.

Stephen Byrd -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

That's great. Thank you so much.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Stephen.

Operator

Our next question comes from Shah Pourreza with Guggenheim Partners. Your line is open.

Shah Pourreza -- Guggenheim Partners -- Analyst

Hey, good morning guys.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning, Shah.

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Good morning, Shah.

Shah Pourreza -- Guggenheim Partners -- Analyst

Just a couple of questions here. Firstly, just on the cost savings, you presented $150 million that was -- $150 million in savings that was obviously executed in 2020. That was well in excess of your original $100 million right? So, just curious to the level of recurring cost savings you think you can take it to '21 and sort of continue on that momentum. And can you find sort of incremental opportunities, especially on the corporate side, i.e. we've seen several peers generate significant cost savings from -- for instance, real estate optimization. So wondering if this is also a potential lever as you guys go through COVID and the learning curves there?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Hey, Shah, this is Drew. So, most of the cost savings that we saw in 2020 I would characterize as more one-time in nature. They were part of our Flexible Spending efforts, and those are typically looking for ways to take action to manage the outcomes in that particular year. And so we would not necessarily see those as recurring, but this year, we've identified new ones that we would be able to use to manage this year, if needed.

And we continued on last year after we said that we got to $100 million looking for more in the event that we needed it and it turned out, as you know, that we needed all of it. Having said that, there were some things that were identified as potential continuous improvement elements and sort of fit into those other buckets, although they were relatively small. I would think in the 20% range and those are now accounted for in our outlooks as part of our O&M expectations. And there are other things that we are looking at. We are driving our continuous improvement efforts forward. Things like real estate optimization are in the spotlight for us as we think about how we manage our workforce of the future and that's an easy one to consider as we go forward. So those things are part of what we're looking at and some of those expectations are now getting baked into our outlooks.

Shah Pourreza -- Guggenheim Partners -- Analyst

Got it. And then just maybe a timing on when you'll update around on the additional levers?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Well I think they're just part of our ongoing process. We don't have anything today. We don't have any specific timetable that we're working toward. It's just an ongoing element.

Shah Pourreza -- Guggenheim Partners -- Analyst

Got it. And then just on Arkansas. It's good that you're confirming or reaffirming that depending on whatever outlook happens in the FRP order that you're comfortable with the plan midpoint of guidance, it's embedded there. It sounds like you're obviously shifting or optimizing capex and O&M away from Arkansas. So I'm kind of curious what -- have you had any dialog with the commission around sort of that strategic move and I'm wondering where are you redeploying the capital spend?

Rod West -- Group President, Utility Operations

Shar, it's Rod. Good morning.

Shah Pourreza -- Guggenheim Partners -- Analyst

Hey Rod. Good morning.

Rod West -- Group President, Utility Operations

The conversation as you know with the stakeholders is ongoing and we won't comment specifically about any aspect of the give and take. But it is known in Arkansas that one of the consequences of us not having clarity around the FRP and the extension is just that we would have to revisit how we deploy capital in Arkansas. And those conversations have been ongoing since the December order and it's part of the motivation, why we are working to various avenues to turn that conversation around. But they are aware of our point of view around the capital plan. We are not talking about specific puts and takes. That said, our point of view that we shared with you earlier about why we thought the FRP provided us the best opportunity to create sustainable value for customers as played out during the pendency of the FRP and why we feel so adamant about the propriety of the extension. So I think that that message will resonate. There is more to come in terms of how it plays out, but that's about all I can speak to it, but you're raising a great point. We are all motivated to create value.

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

And the question about where it's going at this point -- it is not really going anywhere to the extent that we are optimistic that we can get some reversal of the December order. We are waiting to see if we would want to put that capital back in place.

Shah Pourreza -- Guggenheim Partners -- Analyst

Got it, got it. David Borde congrats on sort of the new leadership position. And Rod, make sure you work him really hard. Thanks guys.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

I don't think you have to worry about that.

Operator

Our next question comes from Durgesh Chopra with Evercore ISI. Your line is open.

Durgesh Chopra -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Hey team. Good morning. Thank you for taking my question.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning.

Durgesh Chopra -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Good morning. Can you -- sorry if I missed this, but have you quantified in terms of financially, what impacts if any due to last week's event have for you?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So this is Drew. So Leo in the remarks mentioned some of the cost elements, up to $140 million in terms of restoration costs. And an incremental $400 million in terms of fuel costs. I'll give you a little bit color and there will be more specific numbers in the K, which we'll file in a couple of days. But the -- but on the fuel costs, I think it's all in, it's about $500 million. I would say about $100 million is kind of what we would normally have expected and that gives you to the $400 million that Leo was talking about. Of the $500 million, about $200 million of it is in Louisiana and that is about 90% to 95% ELL and the rest in New Orleans. About $150 million is in Texas, and these are all-round numbers. As I mentioned, you'll have specific ones later. There is a positive deferred fuel balance in Texas of about $90 million that will help offset that. And then in the neighborhood of $100 million in Arkansas and around $50 million in Mississippi. So that's kind of how that would all breakdown.

Durgesh Chopra -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Understood. That's super helpful. Really thank you. So it's essentially $400 million increment to what you may have otherwise expected on a normal basis?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes, yes, in February, and I'm talking about the month of February, really.

Durgesh Chopra -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Yes. Okay, perfect. Thanks. And then just quickly, can you sort of, so the slide here says the Arkansas FRP extension first quarter, right? Just can you remind us what the date is of that final order? And then in terms of like what to look for -- could that get extended? Just any color on when we may get resolution on that front?

Rod West -- Group President, Utility Operations

Yes, this is Rod. March 15, is the date that the commission has set for itself to issue the order for both the 2021 FRP and the renewal the -- of FRP extension.

Durgesh Chopra -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Got it. Thanks, Rod. Appreciate the time guys.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Steve Fleishman with Wolfe Research. Your line is open.

Steve Fleishman -- Wolfe Research -- Analyst

Yes, thanks, good morning. So this was a helpful update. Thank you. And just the Louisiana FRP extension. I think you continued settlement talks there. Could you just maybe give color on your confidence in being able to settle that case?

Rod West -- Group President, Utility Operations

Steve, I can. It's Rod. But I can tell you that the conversations in Louisiana are going perhaps consistent with our expectations. Slowed only by the -- by certainly the storms and occasionally COVID, but the types of issues that we've been working through with our stakeholders and the regulators have been consistent with expectations. We are targeting -- we're targeting the resolution of Louisiana renewal by the end of March. And that said, we'll be monitoring that progress as we have others, but March is our target to resolve that, all things being equal.

Steve Fleishman -- Wolfe Research -- Analyst

Okay, great. And then separate -- different question. Drew, on your financing plans, is there -- I might have missed it, but is there any update or changes in your equity issuance plans for the three year period?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

No, no new changes from what we described at Analyst Day. We have made some progress. We got the after-market program up and running in January. And then we will have a proxy filing coming up or have a request get the authorization to issue preferred equity. So, that should be coming up soon. But those are the only two things that are noteworthy since our last disclosure.

Steve Fleishman -- Wolfe Research -- Analyst

Okay, and then just on the, at the market, is there like a timeline for that part of the financing you're targeting?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

No, there is no timeline. We don't have any additional information there.

Steve Fleishman -- Wolfe Research -- Analyst

Okay. Great, thank you.

Rod West -- Group President, Utility Operations

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from Paul Fremont with Mizuho. Your line is open.

Paul Fremont -- Mizuho -- Analyst

Thank you very much.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Hey Paul.

Paul Fremont -- Mizuho -- Analyst

I guess, if I heard you correctly in Arkansas, your guidance is essentially contingent on an FRP extension. Are you expecting that to come through a negotiation or through a final Arkansas Public Service Commission rate order?

Rod West -- Group President, Utility Operations

The answer, without being -- sounding trite, is yes. So whatever progress we're able to make to-date and through the 15th, which is only two and half weeks to three weeks away, will incorporate whatever progress we make. The assumptions we are making in our guidance and outlook assume the December order and FRP presumptively with the December order, but it's our confidence and our ability to manage to expectations with whatever would be the likely or reasonable components of an Arkansas order. And so that's really the commitment we are making today that our outlooks are tied to those two primary assumptions.

Paul Fremont -- Mizuho -- Analyst

Right, but would your guidance hold if the FRP were not renewed?

Rod West -- Group President, Utility Operations

If the FRP was not renewed, then we would likely have to see what the circumstances were, obviously, we have the ability, if needed to, for instance, filed a rate case or take some other remedial action. And so from a planning standpoint we are contemplating all of those scenarios, but it's too early for us to know which levers we'd ultimately pull. But our commitment is to manage to those likely outcomes.

Paul Fremont -- Mizuho -- Analyst

Okay. And, I think that's it -- that's all from my questions. Thank you very much.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks Paul.

Rod West -- Group President, Utility Operations

Thanks, Paul.

Operator

Our next question comes from Julian Dumoulin-Smith with Bank of America. Your line is open.

Julian Dumoulin-Smith -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Hey, thank you team. Good afternoon -- good morning, rather.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning. Don't you get we are having a 24/7 shop as you don't know what time of day it is.

Julian Dumoulin-Smith -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Feels the same way. But if I can, let me come back to the planning scenario as you talked about a second ago. So you're talking about cost reductions, capex levers and also a series of flow charts, if you will, around what you could do? Can you elaborate a little bit on all these levers, like, if you were to pursue this out, would you file a rate case later this year in Arkansas? Or is litigious and appeal strategy the first way to go? How quickly when you think about the different scenarios would you pursue one over another? And how quickly could we come back with a cost savings program and capex program to preserve at least the integrity of returns, I suppose you did.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Julien, I appreciate the question. I guess we're in the midst of discussions and these orders and we're only a couple of weeks out from resolution. So I think it would be best for us to just defer commentary around all of that until we get the outcome since it's pretty prompt.

Julian Dumoulin-Smith -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Yes, understood. But to be clear about this, it sounds like you've got contingencies already running on both cost and capex levers as it stands today. And then the second quick question if I can just -- which is probably related on the subject of bill impacts and how you think about cumulative bill impact. How do you think about the total trajectory knowing what you know about storms and otherwise, as well as the pace of capex and sales trajectory in '21 onwards, are you anticipating at this point in time across your service territories?

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

So, let me make sure I -- we get to everything that was in there. So you're correct, right. We've made adjustments to our plan to anticipate what we think is the likely outcomes in the FRP renewals or any regulatory process going forward. So that is incorporated in our thinking and obviously in our outlooks based on what we told you today. And certainly from a bill impact standpoint, we're obviously going to work through all of these processes whether it be the storms from last year or the storms from last week and try to make recovery work for -- keep the company in the right space as it relates to our credit profile and earnings as well as to keep our customer bills mitigated as much as we possibly can which is what we've always done. So the tools that we talked about, whether it'd be securitization or normal ways that we handle fuel cost recovery or some of the options that we've taken to those in previous times, all of that will be on the table to where we can make it as minimal impact on customers as we possibly can, while we continue to meet for example our credit and earnings commitments.

Julian Dumoulin-Smith -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Got it. Okay, fair enough. Sounds like things are up in the air. I appreciate the time. Best of luck.

Operator

Our next question comes from Jonathan Arnold with Vertical. Your line is open.

Jonathan Arnold -- Vertical -- Analyst

Yes, good morning guys.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Hey, Jonathan.

Jonathan Arnold -- Vertical -- Analyst

Could we get maybe an update on where you are on arrears and any incremental bad debt since you updated last quarter?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Sure, Jonathan this is Drew. So as of the end of the year, we had recorded bad debt expense of $112 million. Our normal bad debt expense in any given year is about $25 million. So, in that incremental $87 million was recorded as a regulatory asset because we have orders in each of our jurisdictions that would allow us to recover those costs. The arrears typically runs about 3 times higher than the bad debt expense. And so that number is pretty consistent. We've seen it begin to level off, but we need to see where it goes with this latest round of storms and a little bit of backtracking on disconnects because of the storms. And we never did get off disconnects in Arkansas or New Orleans. So those two jurisdictions have continued on for a little bit longer, but that's kind of where we stand right now.

Jonathan Arnold -- Vertical -- Analyst

So just to be clear, I understand that for the arrears numbers, more like a something in the $300 million...

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Correct.

Jonathan Arnold -- Vertical -- Analyst

And of which you've reserved or written off for future recovery half a third, roughly?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

That's correct.

Jonathan Arnold -- Vertical -- Analyst

Okay, thank you for that. And then just may -- if I may, on the quarter and just an understanding the numbers a little better and the full year. It looked like you had $0.23 of tax related benefit for the year, but you were shooting for $0.15 when you last updated guidance on Q3 and so there would be a sort of $0.08 incremental help versus what you were expecting. And maybe another $0.07 or so of P&O. Am I quiet reading that right or is there a better way to think about that?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

That's correct. There is some details in the appendix which talk about those things for 2020 and show -- they are in the fourth quarter, most of that is in the fourth quarter. It was related to just annual true-ups that happened to work out in our direction. There was a small item that we found, which is an opportunity for us. But that's consistent with what we've been doing for a long, long time. Obviously, the big item we adjusted out which we commit to you all we would do and so going forward any of those annual true-ups, they might break for us, they might break against us, we have to manage within that. We do expect to find small items going forward, but we're not counting on it.

If you look at our tax rate for 2021, it's at 22% and I think we're not disclosing it, but in our plan, we actually have a drifting back up to around 24%, 24.5% beyond that. We've had at lower last few years, as you know, because we had all the AFUDC from the projects, pretty much all of which went online in 2020. So that positive tax effect is in a strong going forward.

Jonathan Arnold -- Vertical -- Analyst

But fair to say that it sort of help you $0.15 or so in Q4?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

It did. We also weren't planning the $0.16 regulatory provision from the Arkansas order. So it kind of balanced out.

Jonathan Arnold -- Vertical -- Analyst

Sure. Yes. Got it. And then I may have missed this, and just wanted to make sure, I obviously noticed your capex down for the '21. $300 odd million -- best part of it is near 9%, was -- is most of that sort of dialing back in Arkansas or some other things going on?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

That is primarily Arkansas. We've taken some capital out of '21 and '22, we've put a little bit back in '23 in Arkansas. There were some other timing element in some of the other jurisdictions, but the main impact is Arkansas.

Jonathan Arnold -- Vertical -- Analyst

Okay, thank you very much.

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our next question comes from James Thalacker with BMO Capital Markets. Your line is open.

James Thalacker -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Thanks so much. Good morning, guys.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning.

James Thalacker -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Just real quick follow-up. And I think I know the answer. You reiterated the -- your ranges I guess through 2023 as well as the midpoints. And I think in relation to Steve's question, Drew it doesn't sound like you're financing plan has changed. Has there been any change in the cadence of that financing? And I mean, we look at it as fairly ratable, but just kind of given where the FFO metrics are, should we assume that maybe some of that equity is a little bit more front-end loaded or still ratable?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

No we haven't, we don't have any additional information to provide on timing, other than what we've said previously. We do expect to issue some equity this year and then we have the $2.5 billion by 2024. But outside of that, we don't have any other timing or amount items that we would disclose right now.

James Thalacker -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Got it. And the $1 billion ATM that you were mentioning, I think you guys put that in place in December, that was part of that original financing plan too? Just to clarify.

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

That's correct. It's one of the tools that we were putting in place, with the other being the authorization request for preferred equity.

James Thalacker -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay, great, thank you so much.

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Our last question comes from Ryan Levine with Citi. Your line is open.

Ryan Levine -- Citi -- Analyst

Thank you for taking my question. I just wanted to follow-up on some of the bad debt items. Can you remind us exactly what's in your 2021 earnings guidance as around bad debt assumption? And if there is any incremental off of the initial assumption from the events from last week? I appreciate the $400 million of incremental fuel cost number, but curious if you've adjusted any bad debt assumptions on that regard?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

We have not adjusted our bad debt assumptions for that. Right now, I believe it's probably fairly normal around the $25 million amount that I was talking about earlier. Obviously we'll be monitoring that closely and seeing where all the COVID arrears actually fall out. We have an estimate as we were discussing earlier there about a third. Ultimately, we would expect to be able to recover of those costs through the regulatory process, but we don't have exact numbers yet. This is -- that part is a little bit unchartered territory, we'll see where it comes out.

Ryan Levine -- Citi -- Analyst

Are there any regulatory approaches or tools that you have or any potential critical responses to help mitigate that potential incremental bad debt expense?

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

I don't know about regulatory tools. I mean we have the orders that are already in place. We are working closely with customers to try and mitigate the impact on customers. We've done a number of things to put new deferred payment plans in place. We've been working hard with our customers. We've renegotiated thousands of plans with our customers already to try and help them out. We've invented new ways to get LIHEAP funding to our customers and other community tools that are available. We've actually worked with some of our retail regulators to do some of that in New Orleans and other jurisdictions. So there are a number of things that we have under way to try to mitigate the impact and we are trying to work hard and communicate very closely with our customers to make sure that they know where we are and with our retail regulators at the same time.

Ryan Levine -- Citi -- Analyst

Okay. And if I could just squeeze in one last question. In terms of -- what's the regulatory approach to enable a path forward for Louisiana and any other jurisdictions to fuel LDCs with hydrogen in light of your hydrogen strategies that you highlighted?

Rod West -- Group President, Utility Operations

Well, from a regulatory process standpoint, it would be the same process we use to -- with our resource planning. So whether it's an RFP process, recovery of those -- of the investments we make for those resources would go through our existing recovery mechanisms. But to the extent, there are some nuances where the current mechanisms don't account for some of the really forward-looking aspects of the hydrogen or in any new technology, we'll be talking with our regulators about closing whatever those gaps are, but we have an existing process thus far with the RFP and the writers and what have you.

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

And I'll just remind you, Ryan, the LDCs are very small piece of our overall business, I think the rate base is only about $200 million or so overall.

Operator

I would like to turn the call back over to David Borde for any closing remarks.

David Borde -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Thank you, Michelle, and thanks to everyone for participating this morning. Our annual report on Form 10-K is due to the SEC on March 1, and provides more details and disclosures about our financial statements. Events that occur prior to the date of our 10-K filing that provide additional evidence of conditions that existed at the date of the balance sheet would be reflected in our financial statements in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

Also as a reminder, we maintain a web page as part of Entergy's Investor Relations website called Regulatory and Other Information which provides key updates of regulatory proceedings and important milestones on our strategic execution. While some of this information may be considered material information, you should not rely exclusively on this page for all relevant company information. And this concludes our call. Thank you very much.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 62 minutes

Call participants:

David Borde -- Vice President, Investor Relations

Leo Denault -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Andrew "Drew" Marsh -- Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Rod West -- Group President, Utility Operations

Ryan -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Stephen Byrd -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Shah Pourreza -- Guggenheim Partners -- Analyst

Durgesh Chopra -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Steve Fleishman -- Wolfe Research -- Analyst

Paul Fremont -- Mizuho -- Analyst

Julian Dumoulin-Smith -- Bank of America Merrill Lynch -- Analyst

Jonathan Arnold -- Vertical -- Analyst

James Thalacker -- BMO Capital Markets -- Analyst

Ryan Levine -- Citi -- Analyst

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