‘Consumers shouldn’t have to foot the bill to sue themselves’

January 14, 2011

Business

Press release from the office of Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley

“Consumers Shouldn’t Have to Foot the Bill to Sue Themselves”

PSC adopts Presley’s Motion for New Rule Concerning Utilities Legal Fees

JACKSON — Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley led the effort last week to prohibit utility companies from being able to re-coop legal fees in cases where they have been found to owe customers refunds. Currently, utilities can seek recovery from consumers of costs associated with appeals, even when a finding has been made that the utility owes money back to their customers.

“This is real simple: consumers should not have to foot the bill to sue themselves. Nothing is fair about asking the people, who are owed money, to pay for the other side in a court case. That would be like asking the people who win a case in court to pay for the losing side’s legal fees.” Presley said. “No utility customer should have to be paying to fight against their own wallet.”

Presley made the motion for the Public Service Commission to consider a new rule that would prohibit such legal fees from being added to utility customers’ bills. The motion passed and was adopted and a proposed rule is being crafted.

In a recent example, corporate utility, Entergy, has been ordered by an administrative law judge from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to refund millions of dollars that could benefit Mississippians, yet the company has chosen to fight the judge’s order. “This appeal, to fight Judge Dring’s order, is essentially denying Mississippians money in their pockets. Entergy should not be able to use the consumer’s money to fight against the consumer’s interests. Entergy should drop the appeal and give the people back their money.” Presley added.

Additional information:

Southern District Commissioner Leonard Bentz voted against the motion.

Central District Commissioner Lynn Posey voted for the measure, which passed with a 2 to 1 vote.

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