Commissioner Bailey opposed using the “Commission’s voice” to make the request.
Last week, Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D) sent a letter to President Joe Biden calling on him to appoint, at minimum, two Mississippians to the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
Presley pointed out that the current seven-member board has no representation from Mississippi, although the Magnolia State is the second largest state, in terms of territory, within the TVA boundaries. Presley represents most of that area at the Public Service Commission (PSC).
READ MORE: Northern PSC Commissioner Presley wants President Biden to appoint Mississippians to TVA Board
On Tuesday, Commissioner Presley sought a resolution from the PSC, formally asking the President to appoint Mississippians to the TVA.
PSC Chairman and Southern District Commissioner Dane Maxwell (R) was quick to second Presley’s motion to send the request to the President on behalf of the PSC. Maxwell, presumably assuming the resolution would not be contentious, called for a vote.
However, Center District Commissioner Brent Bailey (R) asked for discussion on the matter, where he then proceeded to question what such a request could mean for the PSC in the future.
“My concern is what does this begin to take us down the road,” Bailey said, adding, “If we begin to demand, and it all gets back for me, what is our role with TVA? How do we, our regulatory authority and oversight and the recommendations we have here and what this may say. What prevents us down the road from then encouraging and making recommendations to even our investor-owned utilities, Southern Company, Entergy Corporation, Atmos, CenterPoint, to demand or recommend or make a statement regarding the makeup of their board going forward? For an entity that we have virtually little regulatory interaction with, I’m just concerned that the precedent this may set going forward and the creep of our mission and statements made publicly.”
Commissioner Bailey said he is certainly capable and supportive of writing letters personally on such issues, but his concern is with using the “Commission’s voice” for requests on leadership oversight.
Commissioner Presley rebutted Bailey, saying TVA is a public power entity, not like Entergy or Mississippi Power.
“[TVA] is owned by the taxpayers. It’s in federal statute as to the number of seats that are there. It’s left up to a decision by those in the White House, and that seems to flip every four to eight years obviously, to be different appointees on the board,” Presley said. “And I just don’t share the view that it’d be better to have two or three people from Alabama and four from Tennessee sitting on a board in which Mississippi has the second largest territory.”
Presley then directly addressed Bailey, noting that as the Northern District Commissioner, he represents about 90% of the state’s TVA customers.
“Now I know you don’t have a lot of these TVA customers in your district. I do. But you don’t have as many as I got. And we deal constantly with them on things in which I can see them on a day-to-day basis that our voice is not being heard on several things. So it doesn’t take a lot to convince me that Mississippi ought to have a seat at the table rather than some other type of argument that to me doesn’t hold water when we vote on resolutions at NARU, we vote on resolutions here.”
Commissioner Presley said he was trying to come up with a way for Mississippi to have the ability to have its voice heard.
“Now if you want to be against Mississippi on the board, then vote against the resolution. That’s your right,” Presley told Bailey.
Ultimately, Commissioner Bailey did vote against the resolution (shown above). However, it was passed by a 2-1 vote supported by Commissioners Maxwell and Presley.