Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mississippi Legislature Considers Utility Financing Bill

The Mississippi legislature is considering legislation that would allow utility companies to raise rates before construction begins on certain power plants. Senate Bill 2793 was approved 38-11, but the companion House Bill 1274 is having trouble getting to a vote. Opponents of the bill see it as a unnecessary gift to the utilities, but the utility companies feel they need all the upfront help they can get to finance new plants. Wall Street is balking at financing new coal plants and new nuclear plants are projected to cost as much as $4 billion. That could leave natural gas plants but it will be very expensive.

The Public Service Commission would have to sign off on any rate hike for new construction. Of course, with the economy sputtering and uncertainty all over the electricity generating industry, utilities want all the help they can get to assure reliability.

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