From press reports
KOSCIUSKO, MS (May 20, 2014) – Today, Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, local officials and Atmos Energy broke ground on one of the first natural gas expansion projects funded by the Commission’s pioneering approach to job creation and economic development through access to natural gas service. With the groundbreaking, Attala Industrial Park in Kosciusko will become one of the first beneficiaries of the Commission-approved economic development fund, receiving $2.1 million.
“I am proud to see that our innovative approach to bringing natural gas service for economic development is bearing real fruit. This project will bring jobs and opportunity to Kosciusko and Attala County, and it would not have seen the light of day but for the innovative approach the Public Service Commission has taken. This is one piece of an 82 county jobs program where we can work to help each county grow,” Presley said.
The economic development fund was created in July, 2013 with unanimous Commission approval. The approach to economic growth through access to natural gas is the only one of its kind in the nation, allowing Atmos Energy to invest a minimum of $5 Million per year in gas expansion around the state for the purpose of job creation and economic development.
“As I’ve said before, it is great to know that when we see a need in our state, utilities and the Commission can work together, think outside the box, and make things happen to benefit Mississippians,” Presley concluded.
Presley Celebrates Victory in Nuclear Waste Fund Dispute
Thanks to the work of state utility commissions, this year Mississippi ratepayers will have an estimated $3.7M dollars in their pockets which would otherwise go to the federal government, says Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley. As a result of a lawsuit brought by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (“NARUC”), of which the Mississippi Public Service Commission is a member, the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) was forced late last week to halt collection of fees added to the bills of nuclear power customers for the Nuclear Waste Fund (“NWF”), which was instituted in 1982 to pay for a national storage site for the nation’s civilian nuclear waste.
For decades, NWF money had gone solely to the study, development and construction of a storage site in Yucca Mountain, Nevada. However; in 2010, under pressure from opponents such as Nevada Senator Harry Reid, the DOE unilaterally shuttered the project with no plans to discontinue charging the monthly NWF fee. Mississippians have paid over $80M into the NWF, with an additional $3.7M estimated this year prior to the court order.
“I am proud to have been in this fight against another federal ‘bridge to nowhere,’ paid for through fees tacked onto Mississippi power bills. Any day that we can keep Mississippians’ money in their pockets and not send it to Washington, D.C. is a great day,” Presley said.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued its ruling in November 2013, ordering the DOE to cease collection of the fee until such time as either the DOE resumes development of Yucca Mountain or until Congress modifies the statutory framework and provides for an alternative waste management plan. The DOE submitted a proposal to comply in Jan. 2014, but continued to collect pending a request for review of the Court’s decision. That request was denied in March.
“While we celebrate today, there are other battles ahead. We must ensure that Congress does not act on the suggestion of some and use this same money to dump nuclear waste on Mississippi. We insist that we get what we paid for with Yucca Mountain, or we want our money back,” Presley said.