Power Plant

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 11, 2010

Tell public more, says PSC Presley

By Rupert Howell

Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley in an interview Wednesday said that transparency was needed to inform rate payers how much construction of a $2.88 billion power plant was going to increase their power bill.

The PSC’s recent decision to approve a proposed coal-fired power plant in Kemper County to be built by Mississippi Power Company affected all Mississippians. He and other commissioners are seeking more transparency in how rate payers will be affected but admitted that the measure would be too little, too late for the Kemper project.

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Although Mississippi Power’s customers are located south of Presly’s Northern District, he says everyone in Mississippi should be concerned that the precedent would be set for all Mississippi consumers to be charged for a product before they get it.

Presley was talking about a proposal that would allow Mississippi Power to tack an increase on utility bills before the plant is producing. He stated that consumers would virtually become  the “bank” for the power company.

“All risks and all costs will be borne by the rate payer,” Presley emphasized and said, “If the plant goes bust, we (rate payers) will just have to pay for it anyway.”

The commission voted June 3 to begin discussion on rule changes to make rate increases more transparent after Mississippi Power successfully hid the amount of customer rate increases connected to the proposed power plant from the public, saying the ratepayer increases to fund the plant are confidential.

Presley said that he knows how much increase Mississippi Power customers will incur if the proposal is approved, but he is not allowed to share the information. He said those figures should be transparent for rate payers to know.

The former Nettleton mayor represents the northern third of the state and serves with two other commissioners on the state’s Public Service Commission.