Brandon Presley

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 15, 2010

Meeting at Batesville City Hall Tuesday with Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley were (from left) Ronny Tackett, Supervisor Gary Thompson, Presley, Panola Tax Assessor David Garner and Batesville Mayor Jerry Autrey. Presley discussed local and state issues concerning utility companies and organizations affecting constituents not only in the Northern District, but across the state. The Panolian photo by Rupert Howell

Few show but PSC head tells the news

By Rupert Howell

Few showed at a meeting Tuesday in Batesville when Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley offered himself to the public for answering questions and finding solutions about public utilities. But that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm when telling a handful of local elected officials of issues concerning local governments and their constituency.

Presley began the discussion speaking of Entergy, saying that power provider, Entergy Corp., had earlier that day, Tuesday, said that the company’s operations in four Southern states are drawing scrutiny with a Justice Department investigation involving power procurement.

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Entergy has said it is cooperating with the three-week-old investigation, and defended its operations, which it believes “have satisfied all applicable laws and regulations,” according to the New Orleans Times Picayuane.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood told the Associated Press that same day that he believes the federal investigation comes on the heels of a pending suit he filed in federal court accusing Entergy of shortchanging consumers by buying power from subsidiaries at higher prices and  passing the  costs on to consumers.

Batesville Mayor Jerry Autrey, Tax Assessor/ Collector David Garner and Board of Supervisor President Gary Thompson listened as Presley, who serves as chairman of the state’s three public service commission board, told of matters concerning local and state utilities.

This was the second meeting in Batesville where Presley attempted to make himself available to answer questions, and raise awareness on issues affecting his Northern District constituents and public utilities in a town hall meeting style.

Presely also mentioned Mississippi Power’s proposed Kemper County coal fired power plant saying that the facility will cause rate increases for those being served in the southern portion of the state.

He said that although Mississippi Power doesn’t serve his district, the plant could have an adverse effect statewide due to an increase in power rates authorized to go into effect while the $2.88 billion facility is being constructed.

Presely has shown support against billing Mississippi Power’s consumers an unknown amount to construct a facility whose technology he said is yet to be proven. Presely also said the Kemper County facility’s justification was made at least partially due to rising natural gas cost, before telling the group that the price natural gas is predicted to be stable for the next 20 years due to a new method of extraction.

Presley also discussed cell phone service and the amount being spent from the Universal Service Fund, a levy which can be found on each cell phone bill, which is used to provide service for those in remote areas.

Presley explained that Mississippians have paid $60 million in USF levies and the state has received $280,000,000.

“We want to make sure this money benefits customers, not shareholders or companies,” Presley said.