Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has apparently co-opted the Mississippi Public Service Commission and convinced them to give his office some credibility in his investigation through a nonbinding resolution. There is no question that between the PSC and the AG’s office that there are at least two or three people with eyes toward higher political office, and their mutual interest seems to be served by finding a “bad guy” even if they have to create one (to coin a phrase from AG Mike Moore) from “whole cloth“.
Much like a Court speaks through its rulings and orders, the PSC speaks through its Docket. But under direction of the Attorney General, they have apparently invented a new creature, a “nonbinding resolution.” That must be loosely kin to “resolution counsel“. While the Attorney General has issued a press release on it, the PSC has not released (at the time of posting) anything to the press about it yet, which makes you wonder who is calling the shots. This resolution, apparently agreed to in possible violation of the Open Meetings Act, suggests that Entergy comply with the Attorney General’s demands. If these Public Service Commissioners seek elective office in four years, voters need to remember that they have one job: to regulate utilities. And in this case they have farmed out the only job they have to Attorney General Jim Hood.
The Attorney General has gone to court with taxpayers’ money demanding the company produce 30 years’ worth of information so he can search for something in an “fishing expedition” to substantiate his claims. Below are some questions that Mississippians deserve answers to from the Attorney General – and preferably before he calls his next press conference.
1. Before the Mississippi Public Service Commission issued your nonbinding resolution, did you have jurisdiction to conduct this investigation? If so, what has changed if anything with this resolution?
2. Have you asked the Mississippi Public Service Commission, which has extensive records from Entergy Mississippi already, for key information that would back up your allegations? If not, why not? Have you asked the Mississippi Public Service Commission whether you could join their current dockets on Entergy as intervenor as the Attorney General’s office has in the past? If not, why not?
3. Has the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission made a resolution similar to the MPSC? If not, do you lack authority under FERC jurisdiction to conduct an investigation?
4. For decades the Mississippi Public Service Commission (MPSC) and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have audited and scrutinized Entergy Mississippi’s operations. Do you think this resolution suggests the MPSC is not competent to regulate Entergy Mississippi? Please begin your answer with “yes” or “no.”
5. Given that you believe Entergy Mississippi has been able to egregiously overcharge customers, do you believe Mississippi should do away with its public service regulatory structure? What would you replace it with?
6. How much of the taxpayers’ money, in staff and consultant time, have you already spent, and do you expect to spend?
7. Your office has had a close – almost family like – working relationship with contingency fee trial lawyers. Have you obtained the assistance of outside counsel in this matter? How much are they charging? What are the contingency arrangements? Did they contribute to your campaign?
8. You claim that Entergy Mississippi has overcharged customers $100 million. Why don’t you provide the public with evidence to verify your claim? How do you know they have overcharged customers if you don’t have the records?
9. You have stated that your objective is to force Entergy Mississippi into a large settlement. Are you concerned about the job losses resulting from such a litigious climate as companies choose not to relocate here for fear of unwarranted lawsuits from the Attorney General?
10. You have never cited any examples in the decades they have been serving Mississippi where Entergy Mississippi has overcharged customers. Do you indeed have any?
Instead of fabricating lawsuits that increase electric bills and further the harm to the state’s business reputation that so many of his contributors have already done, Attorney General Jim Hood should focus his spending of precious taxpayer dollars on putting criminals in jail.