Mississippi Supreme Court to Decide if Utility Companies Can Charge Customers for a PlantBy Lawayne Childrey | Published 28 Jan 2013 08:26pm |
The Mississippi Supreme Court will decide whether utility companies can raise customer rates to build power plants before they start making electricity. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports.
Thomas Blanton, a Mississippi Power customer and Hattiesburg businessman brought the case before the Mississippi Justices yesterday because of what he calls an unconstitutional practice by Mississippi Power.
"I invest large sums of money in Mississippi in producing oil and gas. I never ask somebody else to help me drill an oil well and never give them any interest in the well. So why should I put up thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars in electric bills to build a power plant I own no interest in?"
However, Mississippi Power, spokesperson Cindy Duvall believes raising rates now is actually in the best interest of customers.
"By waiting to collect until after the project comes online our customers are going to pay significantly more because all of those financing charges would have compounded. This is in our best interest to pay right now."
The impact a rate increase is of great interest to Patricia Harvey with the Southern Mississippi planning and development office. She sat through the hour and a half long Supreme Court arguments and says she's especially concerned about the affect a rate increase will have on the elderly.
"There is no provision for those people who cannot afford to pay their bill. A 60% increase in a light bill means a lot to a person that's on a fixed income."
Blanton got his day in court after intervening in a case Mississippi Power filed against the Public Service Commission. The regulatory body first denied the company's request to begin collecting money for the plant. However, last week the PSC agreed to reconsider a 21percent increase for the utility company. The Supreme Court Justices have not given a timeline on when they will make their ruling. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.
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