Mississippi editorial roundup

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 10, 2014 at 12:51 pm •  Published: September 10, 2014
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Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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Sept. 10

Northeast Mississippi Journal, Tupelo, Mississippi, on PSC inquiry:

Mississippi's Public Service Commission agreed Tuesday without dissent to begin a statewide investigation of electric power associations to determine if some or any of them need to refund excess reserve funds to customers, either in direct payments or rate reductions.

Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley, D-Nettleton, initiated the inquiry push with a press release on Monday suggesting that a majority of the 25 power associations, owned as non-profits under law by their members, owe refunds or rate reductions because they have held on to excessive amounts of cash reserves.

Michael Callahan, CEO of the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi, has pledged to work with the commission to examine the issue.

The power associations, established under federal law, are private-corporations empowered to purchase electricity at wholesale prices and distribute it through their defined geographic areas. The EPAs in Northeast Mississippi purchase electricity wholesale from the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The first action should clarify any misunderstanding at official levels of the association and commission about what kinds of refunds or rate reductions are allowed under law, including the contract affiliations with various power generators like TVA and regional private-sector companies.

The power associations consisting of TVA counties are not under precisely the same kind of regulatory oversight from the commission as the non-TVA EPAs.

The first report from the inquiry should be ready for presentation at the regular commission meeting in October, Presley said Tuesday afternoon.

Presley's request is not the first time reserves and assets held by the EPAs have been examined. Questions were asked statewide in 2009 after it was revealed that at last one EPA had invested millions in the Stanford Financial pyramid scam.

The amount and investments in 2009 held by the 10 EPAs in the region was approximately $32.2 million. The public needs to have accurate and clearly stated figures about the assets EPAs have.

Presley said cooperatives hold too much cash nationwide, pointing to a 2009 article that U.S. Rep Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., wrote for the Harvard Journal on Legislation.

Any inquiry should reflect Mississippi's standing within the larger national context.

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