Legislationin Mississippi that clarifies the authority of the Public Service Commission overelectric cooperatives is headed to the desk of the governor.
H.B.1139, sponsored by Rep. Charles Jim Beckett, passed the Mississippi State Senateunanimously on March 28. The bill passed the Mississippi House, 118-3, on Feb. 29.H.B. 1139's companion legislation, S.B. 2089, died in a House committee.
The billis supported by Mississippi's 26 electric power associations and updates Mississippi'slaws on their governance and operations. Most importantly, the legislation clarifiesthe jurisdictional authority of the PSC over the cooperatives. after the PSC, , passed a net-meteringpolicy opposed by theSouth Mississippi Electric Power Associationand the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi, which argued that the new policyamounted to the PSC overstepping its jurisdictional authority by extending it tothe cooperatives.
Earlieriterations of the legislation were more explicit in restricting the power of thePSC over state cooperatives, but the commission eventually negotiated changes tocertain passages, particularly regarding what constitutes a "rate." Theversion of H.B. 1139 that passed the Senate states that all rates of a corporation,the bill's term for cooperatives, "shall not be regulated by the MississippiPublic Service Commission."
The bill allows, however, the PSC to set policy for cooperatives:"Nothing herein shall be construed to impair the Mississippi Public ServiceCommission's jurisdiction and authority, if any, to require corporations to establish,offer or participate in energy efficiency or net metering programs, but in no eventshall the commission set or establish the level of expenditures, compensation orcredits associated with a corporation's energy efficiency, net metering or otherprograms."