New PSC member Cecil Brown could be swing vote on Kemper: analysis

Republican Brent Bailey had a purer history of opposition to Kemper, having opposed it since 2010. Brown, on the other hand, had voted for the Baseload Act while a lawmaker, which allowed power companies to collect construction costs while building new power plants. He also voted for a $1 billion bond bill meant to help pay for Kemper at a lower cost to ratepayers than through traditional power rates. Kemper opponents saw the bond bill as a sop to the floundering unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co.

Brown ran against Kemper anyway, pledging to “review” the Baseload Act and “ensure Mississippi families are protected from these outrageous costs.” Democrats had long believed they could win in the Central District, a 20 county wedge that also includes metro Jackson and parts of the Delta. Heavily outspending Bailey, Brown ran up a 15,000-vote margin in Hinds County that secured his victory…

…Combined with Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley’s re-election, Brown’s win gives Democrats a majority on the commission. With Presley’s string of votes against the plant, it could be Brown who casts the deciding vote. New Southern District Commissioner Sam Britton, a Laurel Republican, says he wants to protect ratepayers, but has taken a less oppositional position toward Mississippi Power.