Brent Bailey’s Experience
“As the previous Republican nominee, I have demonstrated campaign ability and the appeal of our message of common-sense energy policies and energy systems that benefit consumers, create new economic opportunities and diversify our energy portfolio.”
MISSISSIPPI RENEWABLE ENERGY AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY UPDATE
For six years, Brent has provided regular written updates to Mississippi stakeholders informing them of activities occurring at the MPSC and the legislature as well as highlighting state, regional and national energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, projects and policies that advance distributed generation and other clean energy initiatives. Please click on the link below to find the full list of newsletters available for your review.
KEMPER COUNTY LIGNITE IGCC PROJECT
Brent questioned the merits of the Kemper County IGCC Plant from its inception. On March 10, 2010, Brent submitted a letter to the MPSC Commissioners asking them to thoroughly and thoughtfully assess if the Kemper County IGCC Plant proposal is truly the best alternative for meeting future energy demands in Mississippi. Brent outlined his concerns with the lignite fuel to be used, the unproven technology to utilized, the lack of commercial-scale projects, and the steep costs that would impact customers. Brent recommended that Commissioners look at other cost-effective options such as energy efficiency, conservation and purchases from other power resource providers and avoid pursuit of this project.
This project should have been halted permanently in March 2012 when the MS Supreme Court ruled in a 9-0 decision that there was insufficient evidence to support the authorization of Kemper and that the MPSC failed to satisfy its own requirements in supporting its decision to authorize Kemper (see MS Supreme Court Case NO. 2011-CA-00350-SCT). However, just days after the MS Supreme Court decision, the MPSC in a 45-second gavel-to-gavel meeting voted 2-1 to allow Mississippi Power Co. to move ahead with the project.
At that time, Mississippi Power was predicting the Kemper project would cost $2.5 billion. Ultimately, Southern Company paid out over $6.4 billion from shareholder profits to cover cost from the failed project. Mississippi Power, Southern Company and its customers would have be in a much better place if the project was halted in March 2012.
On November 13, 2015, Brent submitted another letter to the MPSC Commissioners questioning why the Commission continues to accept Mississippi Power’s dismissal of the contributions that renewable energy and energy efficiency investments could provide as an energy resource and drive reductions in overall demand. Brent also questioned why the project was allowed to commence construction although detailed construction designs were not complete on much of the plant. Brent also urged the Commission to not grant any approvals for a rate increase due to the Kemper Plant and urged the Commission to order Mississippi Power to continue self-funding the Kemper Project until the plant fully demonstrated uninterrupted, steady-state operation at full capacity for an extended period of time and all project components are functioning as a single system.
On February 6, 2018, the Public Service Commission unanimously voted to approve an agreement that decertified the lignite part of the plant and removed $6.4 billion of risk from ratepayers. Brent firmly believed that the 186,000 customers of Mississippi Power should not have been held responsible for the full costs of the Kemper facility – a project that was unneeded, unproven, costly, inefficient and advanced on false premises.
MPSC Docket 2010-AD-421
In December 2010, the MPSC issued an order opening a docket to consider changes to Rule 22 of the Public Utilities Rule of Practice and Procedure related to charitable and civic contributions. At the time, Mississippi was the only Southeastern state that allowed public utilities to donate to charities with ratepayer money and then recover those donations through the rate base as a cost of service. For decades, the utilities had distributed millions of dollars in customer-funded donations to countless organizations and events. However, utility customers had no say regarding which organizations received donations.
On February 9, 2011, the MPSC held a public hearing to receive comments regarding the proposed rule change. For nearly three hours, representatives from most major utilities in the state and individuals representing various organizations that had received financial donations from the utilities spoke in opposition of the rule change. Brent Bailey was the only individual who spoke in favor of the rule change.
“If a major-brand store, restaurant or other privately owned business supports or contributes to an organization or initiative that I disagree with, then I can choose not to spend my money at that business. However, due to the lack of competition in the utility sector (due to monopoly privilege), I don’t have the choice to spend my money with another utility provider. I support revisions to Rule 22.”
The Commission ruled that charitable or civic contributions shall not be allowed as cost of service. Furthermore, the Commission found that the recovery of the costs of charitable or civic contributions through rates is unreasonable, unfair, imprudent and contrary to the public interest.
MPSC Docket 2010-AD-259
On July 8, 2010, the Mississippi Public Service Commission issued an Order establishing a rule-making docket regarding its intent to consider amendments to Rule 6 of the Public Utilities Rules of Practice and Procedure concerning the filing of confidential documentation and information with the Commission. Utilities are quick to claim certain information as confidential, trade secret or proprietary, thus keeping the information out of public view. Brent intervened in the docket to ensure that the public are provided access, by their government, to information and facts that go into the decision-making process of the Commission.
Brent filed comments ith the MPSC on August 23, 2010, urging them to amend the current rule to provide more transparency in the matters that affect the state’s ratepayers and assure that rates and charges for utility services are just and reasonable.
Brent also testified in front of the MPSC at the September 14, 2010, public hearing. As part of his testimony, Brent said, “In the recent past, utilities have been quick to advertise and claim that energy efficiency programs and/or renewable energy projects will have immediate and adverse impacts on ratepayers despite the obvious benefits of reduced overall energy demand, greater consumer choice, energy diversification, reduced pollution emissions, and new business development. However, a certain Mississippi utility was quick to declare the potential ratepayer impact of a proposed coal-burning plant as confidential information. This reporting double-standard proves that utilities are only looking out for themselves.”
NET METERING AND INTERCONNECTION STANDARDS
MPSC Docket 2011-AD-2
In November 2010, I wrote letters to each member of the Mississippi Public Service Commission to urge them to craft a set of state-specific standards that will allow Mississippians the opportunity to support investments in renewable energy technologies and the creation of new jobs. At the time, the Commission had declined to implement federally directed standards for net metering for regulated utilities as outlined by the EPAct of 2005. Mississippi is one of only four states that has no statewide net metering or interconnection policy. Implementing a fair and comprehensive policy will not only drive energy diversification through greater consumer choice, it will also drive job creation and economic development as witnessed in many parts of the country.
In January 2011, the Commission heeded the call of myself and numerous other stakeholders and put forth an order establishing Docket 2011-AD-2 for the purpose of investigating the development and implementation of net metering and interconnection standards. The Commission intended to engage in a thorough and comprehensive process that identified specific issues that should be addressed in a possible rule. Stakeholders were given nearly 60 days to submit comments.
I filed a motion to intervene in the docket and submitted comments that outlines the policy and technical aspects of net metering and interconnection that should be studied and calls on the Commission to thoroughly assess and facilitate a broad discussion among interveners and other affected parties that will lead to the adoption of programs and standards that allow fair, safe, and affordable net metering and interconnection by distributed generation providers. By implementing an effective and fair net metering policy and interconnection standard, Mississippi can truly advertise that it is open for business to renewable technology developers, manufacturers, and equipment installers.
By April 2012, stakeholders were seeing little activity in this docket nor any progress in the development of a Proposed Rule. Again, I wrote to the Chairman of the Commission and urged the Commission to proceed with this docket and draft rules that provide Mississippians the confidence to invest in domestic, renewable energy sources that bring direct and immediate employment, energy reliability and environmental benefits to communities throughout the state.
After another extended delay in action, the Commission approved the issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to conduct an Economic Impact Study/Cost-Benefits Analysis of net metering and interconnection standards for Mississippi in April 2014. Synapse Energy was awarded the contract to conduct the analysis and delivered its report in September 2014. The report, Net Metering in Mississippi: Costs, Benefits, and Policy Considerations, analyzed a variety of scenarios involving the cost of conventional resources, transmission and distribution, energy and capacity markets, system losses, and other cost points. It found that in nearly every scenario net metering’s benefits would outweigh the costs. The report also found that distributed solar can help avoid significant infrastructure investments, take pressure off the state’s oil and natural gas peaking resources, and put downward pressure on rates.
On April 7, 2015, the Mississippi Public Service Commission took a big step in the right direction by putting forth for public comment proposed standards for the Mississippi Renewable Energy Net Metering Rule, the Mississippi Distributed Generator Interconnection Rule, and standardized application and agreement forms for interconnection. In response to the Commission’s order, Brent issued a statement in support of the Commission’s action. Public comments were due on or before July 1, 2015.
Working with other supporters of residential- and commercial-scale distributed generation technologies, I filed a detailed set of comments that sought to improve and strengthen the proposed standards issued by the Commission. The comments clarified the definition of net metering, addressed the 3% peak load cap, recommended an annualization period, and addressed numerous questions posed by the Commission.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission then allowed parties that submitted comments before the original July 1 deadline to submit additional, brief comments in response to comments previously filed by interveners. Comments had be filed with the Commission no later than September 1, 2015. Again, I worked with fellow net metering advocates to submit responsive comments, particularly focusing on the positions taken by Entergy MS. We felt that Entergy made some unfair comparisons to other states and ignored the conclusions of MPSC’s own cost-benefit analysis report.
The Commission has issued an order setting a hearing on this matter for October 6, 2015, following the Commission’s regular Open Meeting. At the public hearing, I provided oral testimony in support of the Mississippi Renewable Energy Net Metering Rule and the Mississippi Distributed Generator Interconnection Rule as then proposed by the Mississippi Public Service Commission. I urged the Commission to recognize the many benefits distributed energy generation will offer Mississippians: smart economic development; creation of jobs that won’t be outsourced; competition in the energy marketplace.
In December 2015 – as one of the last actions of that term of the Commission – the Commission issued a Final Order concerning the promulgation and implementation of net metering and interconnection standards.
I remain an active intervener at the Commission and continue to monitor the net metering and interconnection docket. This includes participation on the Joint Solar Working Group. I also provided comments and analysis on the draft Actual Benefits of Distributed Generation in Mississippi report submitted to the Commission by Acadian Consulting Group, LLC in November 2018. The Commission chose to maintain the current estimated benefits adder of 2.5 cents/kWh over avoided cost.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROGRAMS AND STANDARDS
On January 15, 2010, the Mississippi Public Service Commission (Commission) issued an Order establishing a Docket (Docket 2010-AD-2) to “Investigate the Development and Implementation of Energy Efficiency Programs and Standards. The Commission asked interested persons and all electric and natural gas utilities to submit written comments in response to a series of matters the Commission deemed vital. Brent intervened in the docket and on March 22, 2010, submitted comments on the matters that the Commission deemed important in the consideration of an energy efficiency standard.
To satisfy the anticipated objectives of Docket 2010-AD-2, on September 16, 2010, the Commission adopted a three-meeting collaborative process for considering, discussing and developing meaningful energy efficiency standards. Brent was invited to participate as a member of the Mississippi Energy Efficiency Collaborative. Collaborative meetings were held on September 28, October 26, and December 2, 2010.
Collaborative members were tasked to develop a set of “guiding principles” that were specific to Mississippi programmatic needs. The findings of the MEEC along with a draft set of “Guiding Principles,” was used to develop a draft energy efficiency standard and rule.
The MEEC participants were asked to review and comment on a 3rd revision of the draft “Guiding Principles” offered by the MEEC facilitator. Brent worked with other stakeholders and provided additional comments and supporting documentation to address ongoing concerns.
On August 4, 2011, the Mississippi Public Service Commission issued an Order proposing rules guiding the implementation of utility-administered energy efficiency programs and standards. Brent, along with other partners, submitted detailed written comments and offered recommendations to incorporate best practices from other regulatory frameworks, clarify cost-effectiveness test requirements, initiate discussions of energy reduction targets, and continue stakeholder collaborative/technical forums.
On November 10, 2011, the Commission determined that an EIS was required to accompany the proposed rule. The Final EIS Report was submitted to the Commission. On November 15, 2012, the Commission issued a new Order proposing rules of practice and procedure to guide the implementation of energy efficiency programs and standards. Again, Brent provided written comments in response to the Order.
On May 21, 2013, the Commission issued an Order setting a special public hearing for June 4, 2013. Brent reached out to a broad array of stakeholders encouraging them to voice support for the proposed energy efficiency rule. Brent the hosted planning calls with stakeholders to coordinate messaging and critical issues that should be brought before the Commission. In all, 19 individuals representing utility, small business, agencies, agriculture, consumer advocates, environmental, workforce development, community improvement, family counseling and others testified at the special hearing in support of the proposed energy efficiency rule. Again, Brent provided comments from a prepared written statement.
On July 11, 2013, the Commission issued a Final Rule and Order adopting standards for energy efficiency and conservation for public electric and gas utilities in Mississippi, including the electric power associations. These new rules require the utilities and electric cooperatives to implement energy efficiency programs that will help residential, commercial and industrial consumers reduce their energy usage and their energy bills while still maintaining comfort, security and productivity.
In a press release commending the Commission and its staff, Brent said “Mississippi, which has long ranked near the bottom in energy efficiency effectiveness ratings, will now make a tremendous leap upward. More importantly, energy consumers will now have access to technical, financial and educational resources and other incentives to implement proven energy efficiency measures and solutions.”
“The 25x’25 Alliance is proud to have been a part of this effort,” Bailey said. “But without the interest, support, participation and commitment of stakeholders representing small business, professionals, agencies, contractors, finance, families, rural communities, the environment and others, this achievement would not have been possible.”
Brent and stakeholders conducted a company-by-company review of the Quick Start program portfolio applications. Brent also filed requests for intervener status in each individual utility energy efficiency plan review docket. Most all of the utilities filed motions to oppose Brent’s intervention. Brent responded in writing to each utility’s motion to deny intervention. The Commission denied Brent’s motion to intervene. Despite this ruling, the Commission emphasized that Brent could remain engaged as a “public witness” and could continue to review the application filings and submit comments outlining concerns. Still, utilities filed motions to have Brent’s comments stricken from the public record despite written assurances from the Commission that Brent “can monitor the proceedings, review the public evidence, file its own evidence and comments, and be assured that the Commission will consider its filings.”
Each year, Brent breaks down the information in the utilities’ Annual Reports outlining the performance of all energy efficiency programs and provides a summary of program demand savings, energy savings, incentives paid and administration costs. Utilities have now completed four full calendar years (2015-2018) of offering energy efficiency programs through the Quick Start portfolio.
After three full years of Quick Start programs, the Commission was to oversee the transition to Comprehensive Program Portfolios and consider the establishment of energy savings targets. However, in September 2018, the Commission modified Rule 29 to extend the Quick Start program indefinitely. Not only do we need to see energy efficiency programs expanded, we also need long-term energy savings targets for each utility put in place. Following the great example of Arkansas, Mississippi could become the next energy efficiency leader in the southeast.
Brent continues to urge stakeholders to monitor the progress of program implementation, and urges individual consumers of electricity and natural gas to utilize these programs to reduce energy use and save money.
MS SOLAR 3, LLC AND SOUTH MISSISSIPPI ELECTRIC POWER ASSOCIATION
Brent provided written testimony to the Commission expressing his support for this 53 MWac single axis tracker solar photovoltaic generating facility to be located on 540 acres of land near Sumrall, Lamar County, Mississippi. This project was developed and now owned, operated, and maintained by Origis DevCo USA, Inc. (aka MS Solar). A long-term Power Purchase Agreement (“PPA”) was executed between SMEPA and MS Solar. This financing arrangement allows SMEPA (and its customers) the benefits of low cost solar generation while minimizing up-front capital investment.
As part of his testimony, Brent encourage the Commission to give equal consideration and support to smaller-scale distributed solar generation customers. We have an opportunity to advance and grow a vibrant distributed renewable energy sector in the state – a sector that creates more competition, gives customers more choice, and puts downward pressure on rates. Just like the Commission’s own economic analysis predicted.
HIRE MISSISSIPPI RULE
The Mississippi Public Service Commission noticed that numerous out-of-state companies have won significant contracts to support and conduct utility-related work in the state. To create more opportunities for Mississippi-based companies, contractors and workers, the Commission proposed the Hire Mississippi Rule.
Brent filed comments in support of the proposed “Hire Mississippi Rule” as an important tool to expand opportunities for emerging companies. Furthermore, work force development efforts will not only help meet the needs of utilities who hire Mississippi-based companies, but it creates greater economic impacts for the state when salaries and expenditures for materials are kept local.
SOUTHERN CROSS TRANSMISSION LLC
Brent requested and was granted intervener status. Brent views the construction and/or expansion of high-voltage transmission infrastructure as an important measure to increase the amount of electricity supplied to citizens and businesses that is generated by renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, hydropower and biomass power. New, cost-competitive energy resources can help homeowners, businesses and industries save money and serve as a driver for economic development by creating jobs and attracting new business entities who wish to access dedicated sources of renewable energy.
INTEGRATED RESOURCE PLANNING RULE
In May 2018, the Mississippi Public Service Commission opened a docket to investigate and consider the development and adoption of a rule defining an Integrated Resource Planning process for regulated electric utilities in Mississippi. Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) is a long-range planning process that requires a utility to forecast its future energy demand and evaluate how that demand can most efficiently and cost-effectively be met.
On August 1, 2018, Brent filed comprehensive comments that provided a set of recommended IRP best practices. The comments recommended best practices that were organized into three overarching categories: 1) process and objectives guiding the development of the IRP, 2) information and analysis included in the IRP, and 3) actions linked to the IRP process. Brent also provided examples of successful IRP standards across the nation that place a premium on transparency and facilitate equal consideration of renewable energy and demand side management resources as compared to traditional generation resources.
On December 11, 2018, the Commission invited comments from interveners on a proposed draft Rule submitted by Entergy Mississippi. On February 12, 2019, Brent again submitted comprehensive comments outlining his serious concerns with the Entergy Mississippi’s proposed IRP rule. In particular, the Entergy Mississippi proposed rule has fundamental omissions of best practices detailed in Brent’s initial comments from August 1, 2018. As such, Brent recommends that the Commission develop their own rule borrowing from recognized best practices and successful experiences in other states as a starting point.
ACQUISITIONOF THE CHOCTAW GENERATING STATION
Brent requested and was granted in part and denied in part intervener status in the matter. The acquisition of the Choctaw Generation Station would increase and extend reliance on natural gas fuel. Brent has expressed that an evaluation of the proposed acquisition of the Choctaw Generation Station should be benchmarked against energy costs, energy diversity, resource reliability, economic development, environmental attributes and other benefit metrics as would be outlined in an IRP.
SUNFLOWER SOLAR AND ENTERGY MISSISSIPPI, LLC
Brent requested and was granted intervener status in this matter. In written comments to the Commission, Brent asked the Commissioners and Staff to compare the costs and benefits of the financing and acquisition model of build-own-transfer (employed in this filing) to the costs and benefits of executing a long-term power purchase agreement whereby Entergy Mississippi, LLC would take the entire output of the solar energy produced by the Sunflower Solar Facility, as it is generated, in exchange for payments made on a rate per megawatt-hour of energy basis according to a fixed price schedule. The power purchase agreement model has been shown to put long-term downward pressure on rates as well as protect customers from the risk of construction cost overruns with respect to the project. Under a power purchase agreement, the utility company is paying only for energy received and, therefore, no recovery for capital investment or fixed costs will be required. By taking ownership of the facility, Entergy Mississippi, LLC proposes an increase in rates in the range of $1.65 to $1.38 for the average residential customer using 1000 kWh/month. Brent also asked the Commissioners to include a 20-year performance guarantee so that customers should not bear the costs of any project underperformance by either making up the shortfall in expected revenues or the purchasing of energy necessary to make up the shortfall in generation.
Brent requested and was granted intervener status in this matter. Community Solar, as defined by the Smart Electric Power Alliance, is a voluntary business model where multiple subscribers pay for a share of a specified offsite solar project owned by a third-party, and receive credit on their electricity bill for their portion of power produced. Brent expressed his concerns regarding the use of pilot solar program research sites to support a community solar program.
Brent has and continues to participate in other dockets that are key to improving the rights of and service to customers
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