- A new compromise version of Mississippi’s Senate Bill 2089 appears to have settled the dispute between the state Public Service Commission (PSC) and the South Mississippi Electric Power Association (SMEPA) over the regulators’ jurisdiction pertaining to electric cooperatives.
- The dispute began after the PSC refused SMEPA’s request for reconsideration of net energy metering (NEM) rules for solar owners. SB 2089 and its companion in the House (HB 1139) were introduced by legislators backing SMEPA’s position that cooperatives should be independent of commission oversight.
- The amended bills give the PSC some jurisdiction over Mississippi cooperatives’ 772,000 customers but do not allow it to impose NEM rates or energy efficiency program designs. The 620,000 customers served by investor-owned utilities Entergy and Mississippi Power remain under PSC jurisdiction.
The PSC last year set net metering credits at $0.07 to 0.075/kWh with a temporary $0.025/kWh adder. In doing so, it rejected rejected the solar industry’s proposed retail rate NEM credit of $0.10/kWh and the SMEPA-proposed $0.04 to $0.045/kWh credit scheme. In January, the PSC rejected SMEPA’s request for a rehearing of that decision.
The 11 electric cooperatives which receive SMEPA’s generation and transmission services and the 14 electric cooperatives served by the Tennessee Valley Authority argue the commission's NEM rule constitutes rate regulation while their non-profit, member-owned status entitles them to be self-regulated. The legislation affirms the cooperatives’ ability to set rates by their governing boards, rather than being subject to regulatory overview.
The cooperatives’ objection to higher net metering rates is due to their aversion to competition and the potential for lost revenues as a result of distributed solar, Sierra Club Mississippi Director Louie Miller told Utility Dive.
Cooperatives argue the higher NEM credit is a subsidy to solar owners by non-solar owning members, according to Electric Power Associations of Mississippi CEO Michael Callahan.