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Miss. Supreme Court asks for more briefs related to Baseload Act

The Mississippi Supreme Court asked Thursday afternoon for additional briefs related to a Hattiesburg resident’s constitutional challenge to the Baseload Act.

The ruling comes after a Jan. 28 hearing in which Thomas Blanton’s attorney told seven of the court’s justices that the Act – which was passed in 2008 and allows utilities to charge customers for generation facilities as they are being built – is unconstitutional because it violates the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which prevents confiscatory taking of property without due process.

Mississippi Power attorneys argued in the same hearing that the law allows for utilities to increase rates for used and useful services, and the facilities the Act is designed to pay for are the benefit customers receive.

The hearing was the result of a rate dispute between the PSC and Mississippi Power related to the Kemper coal plant. The two entities settled that less than a week before the hearing. In Thursday’s order, the high court accepted the settlement and dismissed that case.

The court said the briefs it ordered will have to address five issues:

  1. Whether Blanton’s challenge to the Baseload Act is moot.
  2. Whether his challenge is ripe for the court to consider
  3. Whether the Baseload Act provides for an unconstitutional tax, as Blanton’s lawyer alleged Jan. 28.
  4. Whether the Baseload Act is otherwise unconstitutional
  5. Whether Blanton was accorded due process

Attorneys for Blanton, Mississippi Power Co. and the Mississippi Public Service Commission have 20 days from Feb. 12 to submit their briefs.

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