Brandon Presley, commissioner for the Northern District of the Mississippi Public Service Commission has instructed electric utilities in the state to investigate and develop policies to allow new cell phone towers to be placed on electric transmission towers.
Presley said in news release on Tuesday that such an arrangement could greatly improve cellular coverage in Mississippi while at the same time providing an additional source of revenue to benefit electric ratepayers.
“Co-locating electric and telecommunications facilities could kill two birds with one stone, and I am very interested to see the utilities’ proposals on how to implement this. I have made it a priority in my time in office to ensure that quality cell phone service is available to everyone in Mississippi. By cheapening the cost to put up new cell towers and avoiding siting delays, I fully expect to see more and better cell phone coverage across the state sooner rather than later. At the same time, I will ensure that the money electric utilities receive for a leasing these facilities is used to benefit their customers,” Presley said.
Presley said that in 2008, the Georgia Power Co. was allowed to recover costs associated with leasing space for telecommunications facilities and allocate half of all revenues generated to ratepayers. Similar co-location programs have been enacted in at least a dozen states nationwide, the release said.
Mara Hartmann, spokeswoman for Entergy Mississippi, said that the utility had looked into that possibility in the past and though it has concerns for worker safety and transmission reliability “we’ll continue to work with the commission.”
Mississippi Power Co. spokesman Bill Snyder said in an email that the utility “is reviewing Commissioner Presley’s request . . . . While analysis and research are required for this proposal, we are open to ideas which could benefit our customers and the state from a growth and economic standpoint.”
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