/Brandon Presley talks Kemper, expanding rural Internet and utility jobs

Brandon Presley talks Kemper, expanding rural Internet and utility jobs

Presley, who is the representative of the Northern District commission, presented the commission’s priorities to Capitol press corps at a luncheon this afternoon. Presley stressed that ratepayers shouldn’t be held responsible for Mississippi Power Co. sloppy decisions at its Kemper County power station, which is now nearly $7 billion behind schedule and more than two years late. Many in the audience were curious about the final price tag of the project and whether the commission voted on whether ratepayers could or should foot the bill for overage. Presley stated that the commission can’t make any decisions until the plant has been fully operational. This could happen as early as January. Presley stated that it could take up to 90 days for the commission to determine if the plant operates as Mississippi Power Co. advertised when construction began back in 2010. Presley was elected to serve on the Public Service Commission in 2007. He voted against the building of the lignite-coal-fueled power station. Presley stated Monday that there were promises about the availability of (and) operating costs within a certain parameters that are hard to see how this is going to happen. Presley said that the company had made assurances and must prove them. He added that the company must answer “not only will it actually work but also will it function in the way you promised it would.” Is it affordable at the price you promised it would? Presley also mentioned other priorities of the commission. These include increasing natural-gas infrastructure, high-speed internet access in rural areas, and a proposed transmission line for electricity. This proposed line is expected to begin at a windfar in Garland, Texas, and run 200 miles through Mississippi to Lowndes County. Presley also wants to bring more small businesses from Mississippi into the limelight. On Monday, Presley announced his plans to establish a program called “Hire Mississippi”, which would encourage utilities to hire local contractors to work on large-scale projects across the state. Presley stated that the commission would evaluate these companies based on their local hiring habits. Presley stated that the commission would soon be reorganized to create a “rural service officer” to help rural Mississippi expand high-speed internet access and natural gas infrastructure at no cost to ratepayers.