Presley, Adams debate details of coal project consumer impact

Of the three incumbents RUNNING for re-election to the Mississippi Public Service Commission — which regulates public electric, gas, telecommunications, water and sewer utilities — only one faces a serious challenger.

Brandon Presley

Northern District Commissioner and Democrat Brandon Presley is opposed by Republican Boyce Adams. Both have raised significant campaign funds — Presley with $150,000 and Adams with $142,000. Both candidates view Mississippi Power Company’s multi-billion dollar clean coal plant under construction in Kemper County as a central issue of the race.

Presley, former mayor of Nettleton, is running for his second term as Commissioner. He serves as a board member of the National Regulatory Research Institute (NRRI) and was elected to serve as vice president of the Entergy Regional State Committee (E-RSC) which is composed of state regulators from Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and the City of New Orleans.

Boyce Adams

Adams, who did not respond to multiple requests for an interview, is an executive and owner at technology software provider BankTEL Systems. According to www.boyceadams.com, Adams served as a “Presidential Appointee at the Federal Aviation Administration and at the White House under President George W. Bush (and) worked in the Office of Presidential Personnel focusing on presidential appointments to the energy regulatory institutions.”

Presley said the Kemper County plant “is the issue in this race. (Adams) is for it, and I’m against it. He has gone out of his way to come out for this job-killing rate hike.”

As with all utility infrastructure improvements, utility customers are charged for the cost of projects plus a return on investment to the appropriate utility company.

“This guy is either not informed, not independent-minded, or both. At first he said he wasn’t sure about rate hikes. Then he said in (Northeast Mississippi) Daily Journal there wasn’t going to be a rate hike. Every position he’s taken has been a pro-utility stance. Anybody with half sense knows that a $2.8 billion expenditure is going to raise rates 45 percent and kill jobs,” Presley said.

A Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal story reports Adams as saying, “There is no rate hike associated with the project.”

According to a 2009 document filed with the Commission, the Kemper plant could make customer rates go up by about 45 percent. Mississippi Power Company told poultry farmers that their rates would rise by 30 percent.

While Presley views the plant as a job-killer, Adams touts it as an economic development project, telling the Journal, “It’d bring more jobs and power to Mississippi.”

Presley is confident he’ll be re-elected. “My record is standing up against both the Obama administration and Gov. Barbour when they wanted this plant. It shows I’m independent-minded and I do my own thinking,” he said.

Presley referred to a statement made by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu at a meeting of the Obama administration’s Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage in May 2010, in which he said hoped the Mississippi Commission would give its permission for the Kemper project to be built.


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