Utility Watchdog Employees Furloughed | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Utility Watchdog Employees Furloughed

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Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said he wants Entergy to reimburse rate-payers with checks for offenses found in a Dec. 9 FERC ruling, rather than credits to monthly bills.

Among the budget bills that failed to get to the governor's desk earlier this week were appropriations to fund the Public Service Commission and the Public Utilities agency. Without funding, the two state organizations are sending most of their employees home. The PSC is keeping on a skeleton crew of about 12 people, while Public Utilities shut its doors.

"We're now down to protecting rate payers with spit balls," PSC commissioner Brandon Presley told the Associated Press.

The PSC is tasked with regulating utilities—electricity, natural gas, water and sewer services—and telecommunications, requested additional staff for 2010. Mississippi House members approved the request; Senators did not.

The attorney general's office released an opinion yesterday saying the agency could not operate without a budget beyond its core functions. But Gov. Haley Barbour has indicated that he will call another special session once negotiators agree on a compromise, the story states.

"Having a special session is going to cost almost as much as we were asking for," Presley told the Clarion-Ledger.

Costs for a second special legislative session could be $60,000 or more, added to the $141,000 spent on the first special session that began last Sunday and ended Tuesday, hours before the 2010 fiscal year began.

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