Commissioner says no to Mississippi Power charging customers for MEI payment

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Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley argues that the Commission should not allow Mississippi Power Company to charge ratepayers $45,000 it paid for membership with the Mississippi Energy Institute, because he considers the Institute a lobbying group.

At the most recent Public Service Commission meeting, Commissioner Brandon Presley raised the issue of Mississippi Power Company seeking to recover from ratepayers $45,000 it paid for membership with the Mississippi Energy Institute. Presley expressed his opposition, stating that:

“Mississippi Energy Institute is not an economic development organization. … And the fact that their president is a registered lobbyist with the Secretary of State’s office proves to me that they’re a lobbying organization. … If the Mississippi Energy Institute is an economic development organization, then I am a spokesmodel for Slim Fast. … If Mississippi Power wants to give money to a lobbying group…, that’s fine, but let the shareholders pay for it, and not the customers out here having to pay the bill.”

Presley said that if Mississippi Power did not withdraw its request before the next Commission meeting, he would propose a rule to exclude the payment. Mississippi law prohibits legislative lobbying fees from being charged to public utility customers.

Here’s a video of Presley’s remarks:

Some interesting background on MEI and its connection to former governor Haley Barbour via Mississippi PEP:

“The chairman of Mississippi Energy Institute is Barry Cannada, an attorney at the Butler Snow law firm in Ridgeland where Barbour has worked in government relations and business development since finishing his second term as governor in January 2012. The MEI president is Patrick Sullivan, who worked on Barbour’s gubernatorial staff as an energy policy adviser.”

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