JACKSON — Thanks to the work of state utility commissions, this year Mississippi ratepayers will have an estimated $3.7 million dollars in their pockets which would otherwise go to the federal government, says Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley.
As a result of a lawsuit brought by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), of which the Mississippi Public Service Commission is a member, Presley says the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was forced late last week to halt collection of fees added to the bills of nuclear power customers for the Nuclear Waste Fund (NWF), which was instituted in 1982 to pay for a national storage site for the nation’s civilian nuclear waste.
For decades, NWF money had gone solely to the study, development and construction of a storage site in Yucca Mountain, Nevada. However; in 2010, the DOE unilaterally shuttered the project with no plans to discontinue charging the monthly NWF fee. Mississippians have paid over $80 million into the NWF, with an additional $3.7 million estimated this year prior to the court order.
“I am proud to have been in this fight against another federal ‘bridge to nowhere,’ paid for through fees tacked onto Mississippi power bills. Any day that we can keep Mississippians’ money in their pockets and not send it to Washington, D.C., is a great day,” Presley said.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued its ruling in November 2013, ordering the DOE to cease collection of the fee until such time as either the DOE resumes development of Yucca Mountain or until Congress modifies the statutory framework and provides for an alternative waste management plan. The DOE submitted a proposal to comply in Jan. 2014, but continued to collect pending a request for review of the Court’s decision. That request was denied in March.
“While we celebrate today, there are other battles ahead. We must ensure that Congress does not act on the suggestion of some and use this same money to dump nuclear waste on Mississippi. We insist that we get what we paid for with Yucca Mountain, or we want our money back,” Presley said.