MPSC commissioners at odds

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Published: August 5,2009

Tags: energy, state agency, utilities

JACKSON — The Mississippi Public Service Commission (MPSC) declared its intent to consider the adoption of additional and/or amended rules under their jurisdiction, more specifically a “Ratepayers’ Bill of Rights,” though the decision made one commissioner unhappy.

Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley asked for a full vote on a Mississippi Ratepayers’ Bill of Rights, which he proposed in February. However, Central District Commissioner and chairman Lynn Posey and Southern District Commissioner Leonard Bentz issued their own order.

Posey said, “It has always been this commission’s intent to adopt a Ratepayers Bill of Rights since the idea was first offered by Commissioner Presley, but the majority of the commission felt that this was the appropriate way to handle this matter.”

Presley called the move “curious,” and maintained that his proposal was crafted by his staff after months of research, which would have allowed for input from both utilities and consumers.

“Honestly, I am stunned,” Presley said. He added that the commission’s decision allows the utilities to craft ratepayer protections, which “is just the same as asking the fox to protect the henhouse,”

Bentz, the lone Republican commissioner, though Presley’s proposal needed work.

“The current Ratepayers’ Bill of Rights that has been proposed still needs some tweaking,” Bentz said. “We have a good outline for a Ratepayers’ Bill of Rights in front of us, but we need to make sure that if it is adopted, that the items that are in it work to protect all ratepayers.

Posey said, “Commissioner Presley and his staff are to be commended for their efforts in this matter,” and that he “looked forward to their continued input as the commission moves forward with this project.”

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