Today, Northern District Public Service
Commissioner Brandon Presley asked for a full vote on a Mississippi Ratepayers’ Bill of
Rights, which he proposed six months ago in February’s monthly commission meeting.
The Ratepayers Bill of Rights’ full purpose and intention, Presley said, is to protect
Mississippi ratepayers from unfair treatment and restore the importance of good
However, in a curious move today, the majority of the Mississippi Public Service
Commission refused to vote on Commissioner Presley’s proposal, and instead, issued
their own order asking for utility companies’ to propose a Ratepayer’s Bill of Rights
rather than accepting Presley’s independent proposal that was crafted by his staff after
months of research which would have allowed for input from both utilities and
“Honestly, I am stunned. To ask the big utilities to write a plan to protect ratepayers
against unfair practices by those same exact utilities is just the same as asking the fox to
protect the henhouse,” Presley said.
“Instead of voting either up or down on a plan to give ratepayers certain rights when it
comes to their utility bills, the commission chose to let this sit for six months and today
pulled out an order, unbeknownst to me, and went on record asking the utility companies
what they think should be done to protect the ratepayers,” Presley said. “If that isn’t our
job as elected representatives of the people, then I don’t know what is.”
Presley noted that a majority of his proposed Ratepayer Bill of Rights for Mississippians
simply calls for fair and humane treatment by the utility companies, such as protection
against power shutoffs during extreme weather conditions; flexibility on payment
arrangements in the event of emergencies and having the right to accurate and
understandable service and billing information.
Over twenty other states in the U.S. have adopted similar measures to protect
ratepayers and consumers.
Today, the Mississippi Public Service Commission declared its intent to consider the adoption of additional and/or amended rules under their jurisdiction, more specifically a “Ratepayers’ Bill of Rights.”
The proposed rule would affect the existing “Rules and Regulations Governing Public Utility Service.” Commissioner Posey stated that, “It has always been this Commission’s intent to adopt a “Ratepayers Bill of Rights” since the idea was first offered by Commissioner Presley, but the majority of the Commission felt that this was the appropriate way to handle this matter.” Additionally Posey stated that, “Commissioner Presley and his staff are to be commended for their efforts in this matter,” and that he “looked forward to their continued input as the Commission moves forward with this project.”
Posey also commented that, “This Commission has been extremely proactive in its efforts to protect the ratepayer and will continue with those efforts.”