Mississippi Power

Net metering: PSC approves compromise after utility pushback

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PSC approves compromise on net metering after utility pushback

The Public Service Commission approved a slightly less aggressive net metering rule on Tuesday, responding to resistance from Mississippi’s powerful utility companies in an attempt to avoid litigation.

The PSC originally expanded incentives for net metering, or self-generating renewable power, with a new rule in July that required utility companies to increase reimbursement rates for low-income customers as well as offer rebates to help buy home solar systems. The new rule also established a Solar-for-Schools program with the goal of reducing expenses for school districts.

Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley said the PSC worked together with the regulated power companies on the new order, and doesn’t expect another appeal before the new net metering rule takes effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

Mississippi is behind most states in its adoption of net metering. Out of the 47 states with a net metering rule, Mississippi has the second lowest number of self-generating customers. Most states offer customers the full retail rate when reimbursing them for self-generated energy, and Mississippi is one of six states to not do so.

Net metering advocates argue that the policy helps push forward the transition to renewable energy, which in Mississippi has been relatively slow. They also point to economic benefits of attracting the growing solar industry into the state.

After and Entergy Mississippi pushed back against July revisions to the PSC’s rule, the commission approved the following changes on Tuesday:

  • Narrowing the eligibility for households to receive an extra reimbursement from 250% of the federal poverty level to 225%.
  • Decreasing a $3,500 rebate for home installations to $3,000, available for low to moderate income households earning up to 225% of the federal poverty level.
  • Adding a $2,000 rebate for households to build a battery storage system, although customers can only use one of the two rebates
  • Bringing the participation cap back from 4% to 3% of a utility company’s maximum demand. Once the cap is met, the PSC can again make revisions to the rule.

Presley emphasized the benefits that the rule would have for the 85 of the state’s 142 school districts that are eligible to participate.

Each district, he said, could see savings between $40,000 to $125,000 based on the amount of public land the district owns, and could use that money to pay for teacher salaries and supplies.

Presley added that if the Solar-for-Schools program hits full capacity, it would add just $1.18 to customers’ electric bills on average.

“Anybody that wants to characterize this as some train-off-the-track Green New Deal, willy-nilly (rule), that is a factual lie,” Presley said.

On Monday, Gov. Tate Reeves took to social media to call out the PSC for expanding the self generation incentives.

“It’s a bad deal,” the governor said of the recent changes to the rule. “The PSC should slow down. If not, the legislature must reverse it.”

Asked about the governor’s criticism, Presley said that anyone opposed to the rule had 20 months since the PSC first took up the changes to make their opposition known. He added that the Public Utilities Staff, whose director is appointed by the governor, offered no objections in the public comment process.

“It’s not particularly helpful in crafting public policy for latecomers in the conversation to offer no solutions and just offer criticism,” Presley said. “Anyone who tries to paint this process as kneejerk or not methodical is not paying attention.”

The three PSC commissioners voted on the order Tuesday just as they had on the July order, with Presley and Central District Commissioner Brandon Bailey in favor, and Southern District Commissioner and Chairman Dane Maxwell voting against. Maxwell said that while he’s in favor of allowing customers to self-generate power, he’s against doing so at the expense of non-participating customers.

Mississippi Power and Entergy Mississippi have each echoed that point, arguing that self-generated power is uneconomical, and that expanding net metering forces the companies to pass on adoption costs to the rest of their ratepayers.

In other renewable , the PSC announced last week the approval of a 200 megawatt solar plant in Clay County, which, once running, will have twice the capacity of the next-largest renewable facility in the state. The plant also will include 50 megawatts of battery storage.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Reeves appointments Posey, Beckett – Mississippi Today

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Reeves names Posey to head MDWFP, Beckett for Public Utilities

Gov. Tate Reeves on Friday named his picks to run the state Public Utilities Staff and the , with both choices drawing the ire of one of the state’s largest environmental groups.

Reeves named State Rep. Jim Beckett, R-Bruce, as Public Utilities Staff director. He named former state senator and former Public Service Commissioner Lynn Posey to run MDWFP, where he has been serving as interim director.

Reeves praised Beckett and Posey and said, “Each have a long track record of distinguished public service.”

Beckett replaces Sally Doty, appointed by Reeves in 2020, who left that agency earlier this year to run the state’s new broadband expansion office.

Beckett has served in the Legislature for 19 years, including an eight-year stint as chair of the Public Utilities Committee.

“Affordability (of utility bills) is going to be a challenge for our citizens, but we will make every effort to do so,” Beckett said.

Mississippi Sierra Club Director Louie Miller said he believes Beckett is too cozy with the large utility companies he will now help regulate. He called both Beckett and Posey “political hacks” and said the governor should have chosen more qualified directors.

“All you have to do is look at Jim Beckett’s campaign contributions and the legislation that he has sponsored to know that he is a wholly-owned subsidiary of out-of-state, multi-billion dollar utility monopolies doing business in Mississippi,” Miller said. “We know what he’s about, and it’s not protecting the consumer or advancing clean energy.”

The Public Utilities Staff was created in 1990 to provide technical assistance and make recommendations to the elected, three-member Public Service Commission. The independent staff office was created in an effort to remove politics and corruption from oversight and rate setting of public utilities.

The elected Public Service Commission is required to submit a list of at least three people to the governor for a utilities staff director. The governor’s choice is subject to approval by the state Senate. The people the PSC had submitted for consideration were: Beckett, former Texas lawmaker and Texas Railroad Commission Chair Elizabeth Ames Coleman, David Boackle, an engineer on the Public Utilities Staff and state Sen. Philip Moran, R-Kiln.

Elected Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley on Friday said: “Although a political appointment, the actual job of executive director is very non-partisan and should be based on good regulatory policy as an advisor to the PSC. At the end of the day, decisions are made by the three elected commissioners, but I’ve seen these two agencies work best in the past when the goal has been to work together in pursuit of the public interest. I certainly hope Mr. Beckett shares that same philosophy.”

Posey replaces MDWFP Director Sam Polles, the longest tenured director in the agency’s history, who announced his retirement early this year after 29 years. Polles was appointed by Gov. Kirk Fordice and had served under five governors.

Reeves said Posey has “a long legacy of commitment to the outdoors and … has helped protect our natural resources.” Posey in the state Senate served as chairman of the Wildlife Fisheries and Parks Committee. He later served as Public Service Commissioner from 2008 to 2016.

“The touches lives in all 82 counties every day,” Posey said Friday. “Outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing is what Mississippi is all about.”

Polles had been praised by many for expanding wildlife management areas and the state’s lakes system, providing more hunting and fishing opportunities, and construction of the new Mississippi of Natural Science. But he had also been criticized for allowing state parks to deteriorate and pushing plans to privatize them.

Posey on Friday thanked the governor and lawmakers for providing more money this year to rehabilitate state parks, and vowed to “make our park system one that every citizen of this state can be proud of and enjoy.”

But Miller said that so far during his time as assistant director and interim director at MDWF, Posey has supported privatization.

“He has shown he has no interest in keeping state parks public, so Mississippians can afford a vacation,” Miller said. “He’s proven that with wanting to privatize several state parks in Mississippi. That speaks volumes about where his interest is, rather than trying to rebuild this park system with monies that have come down from Washington.”

Miller said that as PSC commissioner, Posey also voted approval for Co.’s failed Kemper County coal gassification plant — one of the largest energy boondoggles in U.S. history.

“He was a consistent yes vote for the $7.5 billion boondoggle,” Miller said. “I don’t think his track record serves him sell as somebody who would be a steward of our public natural resources.”

MDWFP is governed by a five-member commission, with members appointed by the governor. The commission sends a list of at least three people for the governor to choose, subject to approval by the state Senate.

Also on Friday, at the same press conference in Hernando, Reeves announced his appointment Robert “Bob” Morris III as district attorney for the 17th Circuit Court District. Morris will finish the term of longtime DA John Champion, who died earlier this month.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Entergy, Mississippi Power push back against self-generation

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Entergy, Mississippi Power push back against self-generation

Mississippi’s two state-regulated power companies are now pushing back against the Public Service Commission’s new rule expanding incentives for self-generated power.

The PSC approved the new rule on self-generation, similar to net metering in other states, in July. The update expanded reimbursement rates for low-income customers and created a $3,500 rebate for homeowners and small businesses looking to install their own renewable energy system, such as rooftop solar panels. The rule also adds incentives for looking to use solar panels.

But last month, Entergy Mississippi and both filed motions with the PSC to reconsider those changes. The power companies both question whether the commission even has the authority to create such incentives.

The PSC granted a new hearing, set for Sept. 27.

Utility companies like Entergy and Mississippi Power have long argued that expanding self-generation creates added costs for non-participating customers. Clean energy advocates say those companies just want to monopolize power distribution, and point to the long-term benefits of growing the renewable energy industry in the state.

Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley said his goal is to find a compromise before next week’s rehearing and avoid litigation, which he said could take two to three years and would pause Mississippi’s self-generation programs.

“It would be a travesty to be hung up in court for two to three years, and the result of that appeal process is not one residential or Solar-for-Schools project gets done,” Presley said.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Mississippi Power and MGCCC team up to provide line worker training

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www.wxxv25.com – Janae Jordan – 2022-09-14 16:14:56

The leaders of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and held a signing ceremony this morning for their new electric line worker training program.

The electric line worker non-credit training program officially started on September 6th and is a one semester, 13-week program.

Students in the program receive specialized instruction in certification areas required by the electric power industry.

Once students complete the program, they are prepared for an entry-level position as an electrical power-line installer or repairer. Mississippi Power CEO and…

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Mississippi Power employee rescues cat from under car

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www.wxxv25.com – Rick Gogreve – 2022-09-01 17:30:20

A employee went to help with what he thought was a broken-down car only to end up on a rescue mission for one frightened furry friend.

Mississippi Power Engineer Nate Burse says he was on his way to an assignment when he saw what he believed to be a woman next to her broken down car. Nate decided to help the woman and when he reached her, he was told that a kitten had made its way into one of the wheel wells of the car.

With the help of sheriff deputies and EMS directing traffic, Nate crawled under the car to retrieve the little fluff…

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Downtown Gulfport businesses will spruce up, thanks to facade grants

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www.wxxv25.com – WXXV Staff – 2022-07-26 10:06:05

Seven businesses will be able to give their storefronts a facelift, thanks to Main Street Association and a facade grant.

The Facade Grants Master Plan awarded more than $25,000 in this first round, in partnership with the Foundation and the .

The grant money will be used to enhance the storefronts and the overall appearancef the city’s Innovation and Quarters districts to…

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MS Power Foundation and MS Coast Chamber award grants to local minority businesses

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www.wxxv25.com – Janae Jordan – 2022-07-15 17:28:00

Today, minority business owners not only learned ways to make money, but also received money thanks to the Mississippi Coast Chamber of Commerce and Foundation.

Minority small business owners from across the Coast gathered at the Knight Nonprofit Center to enjoy breakfast, a diversity council workshop, and 16 businesses even received $1,000 through the Shine a Light Minority Small Business Grants….

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Clean energy: incentives for self-generated renewables

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New incentives for self-generated renewables a ‘win for clean energy’

The on Tuesday added a new rebate and low-income credits in its updated rule on compensating homeowners for generating renewable power.  

With hopes of growing the number of Mississippians self-generating renewable power, the PSC announced a $3,500 rebate for home and small business owners purchasing a system such as rooftop solar panels, as well as higher payments to households earning up to 250% of the federal poverty level.   

“These new rules will make Mississippi open to business to clean energy technology developers, manufacturers, and installers, and will help boost low-income opportunities allowing Mississippians to experience the cost-saving benefits of solar energy,” Central District Public Service Commissioner Brent Bailey said. 

Net metering works by customers selling any extra renewable power they generate back to their utility company. 

Mississippi has the second-lowest number of participants – roughly 300, as of February –  among states with a net metering law. It also was one of the last states to adopt net metering, starting the program in 2015. 

Clean energy advocates were critical of the original rule because, unlike in most states, net metering customers in Mississippi aren’t reimbursed at the retail price for their generated power.

The PSC’s regulated utility companies – Entergy Mississippi and – pushed back against expanding net metering, arguing that paying too much money in incentives puts an unfair cost burden on non-participating customers. 

Although the new rule announced this week didn’t raise the reimbursement rate, Mississippi Sierra Club director Louie Miller called it a “win for the clean energy sector.”

“I applaud the commission on what they did, I think they really stepped up,” Miller said. “As we’ve seen with the price of natural gas and with how volatile fossil fuels are, this is going to give a lot of people the option to self-generate their electricity.”

Between the new $3,500 rebate and federal rebates available to self-generating customers, those homeowners are going to “see some real money,” he explained. Miller also pointed to long-term benefits of self-generation, such as during storms when customers lose connection to their utility’s power grid.  

Among other changes, the new rule allows the PSC to go back and make changes once the threshold for net metering customers – which increased from 3% of a utility company’s peak demand to 4% – is met, giving the commission more flexibility. The changes also lock in whatever reimbursement rate a customer is receiving for the next 25 years. 

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Tips to keep your power bill low

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Biloxi - Local News Feed Images 011

www.wxxv25.com – Janae Jordan – 2022-06-23 17:48:50

Summer is here and as temperatures continue to rise, so does your electric bill as you try to stay cool. To save money, offered some energy saving tips.

When it comes to saving money, set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher in the summer. Use a ceiling fan in occupied rooms to make yourself feel cooler. Close your blinds and curtains during the day to block the sun’s heat.

Change your air filters…

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Pascagoula housing market devastated by FEMA

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Pascagoula leaders say FEMA rules are killing housing market: ‘It’s literally making people homeless’

— Josh Church is usually just the messenger, but that doesn’t make him any more popular among city homeowners.

Church is a building official. And in post- Pascagoula that has meant years of informing homeowners federal rules meant to protect them won’t allow them to spend the needed funds to repair their homes or keep them up to code. 

The city cannot grant the needed building permits if a home or building’s repairs cost more than 50% of what the property is worth. But property values in Pascagoula have plummeted, city officials say, meaning that “50% rule” doesn’t stretch far. Many homes in Pascagoula, built in the 1940s and 50s, are now valued below $100,000.

“It’s literally making people homeless,” Church told Mississippi Today. 

Pascagoula has a growing number of deteriorating homes that wind up condemned, according to city leaders. So on Tuesday, Pascagoula’s mayor, economic development director and other city stakeholders launched a coalition demanding congress change the rules set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency they say have devastated Pascagoula’s housing market. 

“We have to get some relief,” Pascagoula Mayor Jay Willis said during the Tuesday press conference. “They’re slowly killing neighborhoods in Pascagoula.” 

A home on Frederic Street sits abandoned and rotting. The number of derelict homes in Pascagoula is on the rise, according to city officials. They blame FEMA regulations that dictate property owners cannot spend more than 50% a home’s value on repairs.

In 2009, in response to Hurricane Katrina, FEMA put 90% of Pascagoula into expanded flood zones. Pascagoula leaders say before that shift only about 20% of the city was in flood zones. As a result, in the last 17 years the bulk of Pascagoula home values have dropped dramatically. 

“It’s not easy to tell someone that has lived in their house for 30 years that after a small fire, it’s going to cost 60% of their house value for repairs, so we can’t let them fix it,” Church said.

The FEMA rules are intended to protect people from investing in properties that are likely to flood again. City leaders say that in Pascagoula, homes aren’t in a high-degree of danger.

“These neighborhoods have only flooded one time in history and that was during Katrina,” Willis said. 

The coalition has support from state leaders – Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, former Gov. Haley Barbour and Rep. Steven Palazzo – and some of Mississippi’s largest businesses. 

Alan Sudduth, a corporate affairs manager for Chevron, took to the podium Tuesday to give the company’s support but also to point out his workers cannot find homes in Pascagoula. The same sentiments have been echoed by . It’s common for Ingalls shipbuilders to live out-of-state. 

“Prior to Katrina, we had a healthy percentage of employees who lived in Pascagoula,” Sudduth said. “Since the application of these rules, it’s been a sharp decline.” 

Church said realtors are fielding calls regularly from people who want to live in Pascagoula, which has invested recently in building up its downtown. 

“But we don’t have many for sale because we cannot fix them,” Church said. 

The “50% rule” covers a 10-year span. In the case of a $100,000-valued home, the city cannot permit more than $50,000 in repairs over a decade – that includes everything from roofs, electrical issues to plumbing.

The coalition calls its campaign “S.O.S Pascagoula” with the slogan: “Don’t leave our neighborhoods behind.” 

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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