HOUSTON – Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said his job to is to make sure public utilities follow state law and doesn’t understand why some agencies have balked when he asked for their bylaws.
Speaking to the Houston Exchange Club last week, Presley said utility companies that are given the right to operate without competition in Mississippi should expect oversight at some level by the state.
“When you operate a public business and are given exclusive rights to serve the public, you need to be checked on,” said Presley. “There is a verse that says ‘to whom much is given, much is required.’ We just want public utilities to be just that – public.”
The PSC stirred up water associations across the state last spring when they subpoenaed their bylaws in an effort to see if they were abiding by state law.
The move was sparked after allegations of mismanagement at North Lee County Water Association were reported in the Daily Journal. The North Lee board resigned with the director pleading guilty to lying about federal water reports.
Legislation passed the Senate last week that could remove the authority of the three-member Public Service Commission to regulate the approximately 950 water associations across the state.
Presley told the Exchange Club that PSC does not set rates and does not check water quality. He said the PSC is charged with making sure the public gets proper service, fields complaints of abuse and checks those complaints to make sure utilities follow state and federal regulations.
“I want to point out the vast majority of water associations do a very good job,” said Presley. “But how does the public know they are following state and federal guideline and who do they call if they have a complaint or a problem.”
Presley also pointed out the PSC has not fined any water association following last spring’s investigation. He did point out water associations are being looked at a little closer by the Mississippi Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Environmental Quality.
Presley said the PSC is also responsible for enforcing the state’s do-not-call-list that prevents telemarketers from calling residents who don’t want to be bothered.
Presley said the PSC currently has more than 3,000 investigations against telemarketers underway.
Presley said the PSC also monitors the service and reliability of rural electric associations.
“I am elected by you and I represent you,” said Presley. “If anyone every has a problem with a public utility, I urge them to contact the Public Service Commission and we are glad to see if we can help.”