After several of Mississippi’s top officials, including Gov. Tate Reeves, criticized a new program designed to incentivize the growth of solar energy in schools and residential areas, the Mississippi Public Service Commission met today to reaffirm its support for the policy. Critics claim it will raise energy costs for customers statewide.
Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley, a supporter of the program, spoke out after the vote at today’s meeting.
“I find it so strange that people that would write letters to this agency telling us to support a 45% rate increase for a failed clean coal plant now want to mischaracterize what we’re trying to do,” he said, while referencing a defunct “clean coal” project in Kemper County that Reeves once supported. “I don’t know if they can’t add or subtract.”
Net metering is a process by which residents can generate their own solar energy and sell it back to the power grid during times of peak consumption, defraying costs and helping to contribute to the state’s overall energy supply.
In July, the PSC voted 2-1 to expand the program, offering a higher rate of reimbursement to low-income adopters and providing a $3,000 credit for some households that install solar panels. Today, the PSC voted by the same margin to maintain the rules despite the complaints of the governor and other state leaders.
In an interview with the Mississippi Free Press this morning, Presley fired back at critics of the new rules, explaining that the average customer would be looking at a cost of $1.18 a month if the program were somehow able to attract the maximum of 9,000 new solar customers.
“At that point, you’re probably talking about a mix of 9,000 whole residential customers that received the energy independence incentive,” he said. That would represent over a sixteen-fold increase in the amount of solar-equipped residences in the state. Less utilization of the incentive program would mean rates would increase even less than that.
“This is not the impression you would get from people acting as if the sky is falling, that rates are going up like that. These
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