February 16, 2016
Mississippi Solar LLC, a solar panel installation company, sent an "urgent alert" today to media and followers regarding House Bill 1139 and Senate Bill 2089 in the Mississippi legislature, which they say would gut the power of the Mississippi Public Service Commission, reverse recent moves toward net metering and widely deregulate the companies that offer electric power in Mississippi.
In one section of the House bill, the authority of the PSC to oversee rates set by these corporations (which have a monopoly granted by the states) appears to be completely overturned, as well as the ability of the PSC to regulate consumer benefits such as net metering and smart-grid investment:
A corporation * shall have the power to fix, adjust, charge, collect and pay reasonable rates for electric energy and other facilities, supplies, equipment, products, commodities, goods and services furnished by, offered by or furnished to the corporation. All rates of a corporation formed or operating under the provisions of this article shall be established by the corporation's board and shall not be regulated by the Mississippi Public Service Commission.
The commission also shall not regulate nor attempt to regulate corporations formed or operating under this article with respect to the subject matters of standards established by the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, including, but not limited to, those established at 16 USC Section 2621(d), and including, but not limited to, the following matters: cost of service; declining block, time-of-day, seasonal, and interruptible rates; load management techniques; integrated resource planning; conservation and demand management; energy efficiency; wholesale power purchases; net metering; fuel sources; fossil fuel generation efficiency; time-based metering and communications; interconnection for distributed generation; and smart grid investments and information.
http://jacksonfreepress.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2016/02/16/200px-Charles_Beckett.jpg" align="right" />The House bill was introduced by https://ballotpedia.org/Jim_Beckett">Republican Charles "Jim" Beckett, chair of the Public Utilities committee, whose 2015 campaign filings show nearly all of his campaign contributions were from corporations or PACs, many of which are subject to oversight from the PSC.
Rep. Beckett accepted $2000 from Entergy's PAC (and another $1000 in 2014), $1000 from Mississippi Power's PAC, $500 from the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi's PAC (pre-election in August); he also accepted money from Koch Companies Public Sector LLC, Cable PAC MCTA, Verizon and Comcast Corp., AT&T PAC, Chevron, North American Coal PAC, Atmos Energy Corp PAC and others.
Beckett began the year with $73,447 in the bank (including repaying a $10,000 loan on the same day he received it February of 2015, http://www.sos.ms.gov/CampaignFinanceWebScans/Committee%20to%20Elect%20Charles%20Jim%20Beckett%20%20(May%208%202015%20Periodic%20Report)%20May%206%202015.pdf">according to campaign filings) and ended it with $75,518, thanks in part to a post-victory $2500 donation from Electric Power Associations of Mississippi in December.
Seems they're already big fans.
[Note: The above was corrected; I originally thought the $10,000 repaid in February was loaned in the previous year. If you know of some clever political accounting reason to loan yourself money the same day you repay it, clue me in.]
Here's the text of http://www.mssolar.net">Mississippi Solar LLC's statement:
URGENT: Call today and forward this message to your Mississippi contacts! HB 1139/SB 2089 currently being discussed will effect the majority of Mississippi Power customers. Details below. The House vote is Thursday; Senate is forthcoming.
HB 1139 / SB 2089 - "Electric Co-Op Power Grab"
This legislation strips the MS Public Service Commission (PSC) of its current responsibility regarding:
Rates charged to customers thereby removing consumer protection
- Eliminates Energy Efficiency requirements for Electric Co-Ops
- Abolishes Net Metering Rules for residential rooftop solar
Kills Interconnection Standards for residential rooftop solar
Allows Electric Power Co-Op to raise rates to cover ANY "economic development projects" their individual boards desire, without membership approval or PSC oversight.
Allows mergers - including those across state lines - to occur without PSC oversight.
Creates a new code section that indemnifies (i.e. shields) Electric Power Co-Ops' board of directors and officers from civil, criminal, administrative or investigative proceedings, whether formal or informal - in essence, a 'Get-Out-of-Jail-Free' pass.
Please call the Legislative switchboard 601-359-3770 to get a message to the following decision makers:
House Committee on Public Utilities - "OPPOSE HB 1139" Jim Beckett, Chairman; Jody Steverson, Vice-Chairman
Members: Earle S. Banks; David Baria; Richard Bennett; Kimberly Campbell; Gary Chism; Casey Eure; Michael Evans; Mark Formby; John Hines; Joey Hood; Steve Massengill; Carl Mickens; Tom Miles; David Myers; Margaret Rogers; Noah Sanford; Bobby Shows; Gary Staples; Kathy Sykes; Brad Touchstone; Percy Watson.
Senate Committee on Energy - "OPPOSE SB 2089" Briggs Hopson III, Chairman; Josh Harkins, Vice-Chairman
Members: Nickey Browning; Terry Burton; Videt Carmichael; Dennis DeBar; Bob Dearing; Sally Doty; Robert Jackson; Gary Jackson; Sampson Jackson; Russell Jolly; John Polk; Sean Tindell.