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IPPs have no interest in helping Mississippians


I’ve read with interest your paper’s recent coverage of Mississippi Power Company’s IGCC plant and the Entergy E-RSC meetings.

As a former Mississippi Public Service Commissioner privileged to have served the state and the people of Mississippi for more than 30 years, I believe the articles have done a disservice to your readers, utility customers and the regulated utilities in this state.

In both articles, independent power providers (IPPs) are opposing regulated utilities. What is missing from your coverage, and what is important background for your readers to understand, is that IPPs are owned by outside private interest (many of which are Wall Street firms) whose interests do not include Mississippi utilities’ customers or the state’s economic competitiveness.

The IPPs do not want to see more power plants built in Mississippi or anywhere else in the nation, whether nuclear, coal or otherwise. By stymieing the building of new plants, market prices for electricity increase, the IPPs profit and the value of their existing plants increase so they can sell them for a profit.

Further, and just as importantly, when the IPPs sell power, they want existing utilities’ customers to pay for the transportation of that power over the regulated companies’ transmission lines. Often that power goes out of the state and does not benefit the customers here.

This is why IPPs have been intervening in utility projects across the country.

Mississippi’s two largest regulated utilities — Mississippi Power Company and Entergy Mississippi — have both been based in this state for decades, paying taxes and employing thousands of Mississippians who, along with the companies’ retirees, also pay hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes, goods and services. Compare that to an IPP that employs a few, ships profits out of state and likely buys services from out of state as well.

Readers — in this case, Mississippi’s business community —  would be well served to have this background information when reading articles such as the ones mentioned above.

Nielson Cochran

Mississippi Public Service Commissioner, 1984-2007


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