Posey discusses state’s energy future

Published 5:00 am Thursday, September 4, 2008

New Central District Public Service Commissioner Lynn Posey saidthe state is at a “crossroads” as the regulatory panel contemplatesthe future of energy needs in the state.

Posey spoke Wednesday at the Brookhaven Kiwanis Clubmeeting.

“A few things are going to give us some real challenges in thenext 12 to 18 months,” Posey said.

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Among the issues Posey mentioned was Entergy’s fuel adjustmentclause, which allows the company to charge customers based onexpectations of the cost of fuel needed to generate power. Poseysaid there were no indications Entergy was doing anything wrong,but it has been a number of years since the commission looked atthat situation.

“We’re going to look and see if there’s a better way of doingthat,” Posey said.

Entergy raised eyebrows – and prompted hearings before the PSC -when it sought a 28 percent increase due to the fuel adjustmentrecently. An agreement between the entities resulted in a loweradjustment, which was also aided by declining fuel costs.

Posey said another challenge will be future energy generationneeds for the state. He indicated the questions will be how muchenergy will be needed, best ways to generate it and at the bestcost.

“We’re at a crossroads. What will we do for power,” said Posey,while touching on nuclear, coal and other options.

In another Entergy-related matter, Posey discussed theconstruction in progress clause agreed to by the Legislature duringthis session.

The clause would allow Entergy to add construction costs on tobills in advance, rather than accrue major interest costs on a bondand pay after a new plant is built. Posey mentioned the estimatedcost of a new nuclear plant to be in the $8 to $14 billionrange.

“I’m not decided one way or the other how I feel about thatconcept,” said Posey, who expected hearings to be held on thematter later.

Posey pointed out that the PSC is composed of almost entirelynew members. Posey and Northern District Public ServiceCommissioner Brandon Presley took office this year while SouthernDistrict Public Service Commissioner Leonard Bentz was appointed byGov. Haley Barbour and won election to a full term last year.

In discussing the PSC’s various duties and functions, Posey alsomentioned the state’s Do Not Call List. He said the PSC is activelyencouraging people to sign up for the list and is seeking toprosecute those who violate it.

On more recent matters, Posey mentioned Hurricane Gustav anddamage the storm caused. He said Adams and Wilkinson countiessustained significant disruptions, but the rest of SouthwestMississippi fared relatively well.

“We were pretty fortunate in our area of the state,” Poseysaid.