Electric power associations ask Mississippi PSC to reconsider efficiency rules

Mississippi-Public-Service-Commission-LogoAn electric power association and a trade organization have asked the Mississippi Public Service Commission to reconsider the energy efficiency rules regulators adopted in July.

South Mississippi Electric Power Association and the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi said in documents filed with the commission that state law may render the efficiency rules inapplicable to electric power associations.

Specifically, the motion to rehear and reconsider the efficiency rules question whether the Mississippi Public Utilities Act of 1956, which establishes PSC jurisdiction over electric power associations, allows that jurisdiction to extend to the associations’ rates.

The documents say rate regulation “is limited to circumstances involving intrastate business and property of public utilities and when where service is rendered to the member as a consumer in a municipality.

Jim Hood

Jim Hood

“As a result of the foregoing, and since it is impossible to implement an energy efficiency program without a rate impact, SMEPA and its Members are exempted from the regulation of the Commission in the area of Conservation and Energy Efficiency programs and implementation, thus exempted from compliance with Rule 29,” the documents continue.

The energy and efficiency rules regulators adopted over the summer were the result of more than three years of study and input from stakeholders. Upon their adoption, commissioners said they would benefit ratepayers by instituting operational mandates on utilities that would maximize efficiency in energy production and distribution. Among the mandates are that electric and gas utilities implement energy efficiency programs.

The rules also require utilities to make available to their ratepayers technical, financial and educational resources and incentives related to energy efficiency.

An economic impact statement conducted over the course of the commission’s formulating the rules said that the rules would have a positive effect on consumers, and especially small businesses.

SMEPA and EPAs of Mississippi argue that since the costs of the mandates imposed on utilities can, with PSC approval, be put into their rate bases, the rules constitute a rate regulation, therefore exempting them from the guidelines imposed.

The documents go on to say that SMEPA has already instituted its own set of energy efficiency programs. Listed as an example is SMEPA’s Comfort Advantage initiative, which the association says has added 25,000 energy efficient homes to meters served by SMEPA’s member cooperatives.

“SMEPA and its Members have been active in developing additional energy efficiency programs without PCS regulation,” the documents state. “Before the PSC publicly addressed energy efficiency and considered energy efficiency regulation, SMEPA was moving forward with its Energy Efficiency Potential Study and Pilot Programs that will develop into long-term energy efficiency programs. The programs SMEPA implements will be available to all customers, not just a focused few, will make good economic sense for both the rate payer and the utility and will help SMEPA avoid or delay adding expensive new generating capacity.”

Tacking the new rules onto those existing programs would make them no more effective, SMEPA says in its filings.

“In fact, by working with all eleven of its Member Cooperatives, SMEPA can develop programs that more effectively obtain efficiency goals by taking advantage of regional differences and working those to the benefit of the whole. If required to comply with Rule 29, each Member Cooperative would have to attain dictated goals that lack consideration for regional differences in existing building construction, local economic conditions, housing inventory conditions and weather patterns. This may force the individual Member Cooperatives to implement programs that are cost in-effective simply to attain the goals dictated by the Commission.”

Attorney General Jim Hood has filed documents asking the PSC to deny SMEPA’s motion for reconsideration and rehearing.

As of Tuesday, commissioners had not ruled on the matter.

 

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