Even More Insanity – MS Public Service Commission and MS Legislature

biggerpieforum.org | Even More Insanity – MS Public Service Commission and MS Legislature | Administrator
Einstein is said to have said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over.  And expecting different outcomes.”  This was the lede in an earlier article about public education.  (Fortunately, education is changing.)  It also applies to the Mississippi Public Service Commission and the Mississippi Legislature.  They haven’t changed in response to the Kemper lignite plant fiasco.
What have we learned?  What will keep the PSC from approving the next utility boondoggle promoted by the next charismatic governor?  Maybe the memory of the Kemper debacle?  Or maybe PSC commissioners that are not beholden to the governor?  Possibly.  But memories fade.  And commissioners change.
And big expensive projects are so profitable for regulated utilities that they find ways to make them sound good — and prudent even though they cause higher rates.  For example, Kemper was supposed to provide “fuel diversity.”  This was supposed to protect customers if the sky fell and natural gas got expensive or scarce as the company’s “research” predicted.
Too bad for Mississippi Power and its parent Southern Company that the experimental gasifier didn’t work.  And that natural gas got more plentiful and cheaper thanks to fracking.  But lucky for customers.  So they won’t pay for the $6 billion gasifier, and their rates won’t go up as much.
Customers will pay more than they should though, because they will pay for some of Kemper’s extra cost — thanks to decisions by prior commissioners.  Customers stepped over a snake.  They may not be so lucky next time.
What could improve the odds that customers won’t get snake bit?
We (Bigger Pie Forum) asked this question and retained an expert on utility regulation to answer it.  He looked at how other states regulate electric utilities.  He found no magic answer.  But he

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