Checking In With Brent Bailey:
The First In A Series With Central District's New PSC
(BAMSouth.org will conduct regular interviews with newly-elected Central District Public Service Commissioner, Brent Bailey, to inform our readers about regulatory and consumer issues they need to be aware of and knowledgeable about. We appreciated Commissioner Bailey's willingness to take time out to educate the public on important issues that affect all those in the Central District.)
BAMSouth: Commissioner, congratulations on your recent election victory. What will be your top priority as you enter your new position?
Bailey: Thank you and I appreciate the opportunity to share with your readers. I hope they will use this forum to become better informed about the role, responsibilities and services of the Public Service Commission (PSC) as it relates to their day-to-day lives.
Two of the biggest issues I heard over the last 10 months of my campaign dealt with robocalls and lack of rural telecommunication/internet services. Both are challenging matters and will take the cooperation of multiple entities to solve. But these are areas that the public has generally voiced the greatest concern over and I plan to work with the other Commissioners to find viable solutions that can be applied across the state.
These issues are not unique to the Central District and will require a holistic approach. But I will work to see that consumers in the Central District – especially rural customers – benefit from our efforts.
BAMSouth: Are you proposing any new guidelines, ideas or rules that you would like to see implemented to benefit your constituency? If so, would you briefly explain what these are?
Bailey: Although I have worked before with the PSC for well over 10 years representing consumers’ interests and am very familiar with many of the issues that come before it, I will be spending my early days listening to the staff, the stakeholders and the regulated community to understand their expectations.
That said, my priority will be ensuring that Mississippi utility consumers are provided the highest-quality, most affordable and most reliable utility services possible. And I will do that by being a responsive, engaged public servant.
Moving from traditional metering technology to "smart" meters, for example, will open many doors and create new opportunities for consumers to become better informed regarding their energy use. The Commission must ensure that customers have unfettered access to this data and can utilize it in ways that are beneficial to their home or business while protecting the integrity of the data and the security of the network.
Also, the Commission just passed an Integrated Resource Planning and Reporting Rule at its last meeting. This rule creates a new platform for long-term utility planning transparency and provides established participation milestones for stakeholders. The purpose of the rule is to provide consumer protection against potentially unnecessary and costly utility expenditures and operational costs.
BAMSouth: What do you think is the biggest misconception in the public's mind about what your job entails?
Bailey: Unfortunately, too few people fully understand or realize that the PSC even exists for their benefit. That said, state statutes outline what utilities and businesses the PSC does and does not regulate. And this can create some confusion with consumers.
The PSC is a very important agency and decisions made impact the bottom lines of residences, businesses and industries on a nearly daily basis all across the state. So I would not say there are many misconceptions, but rather that there is an honest lack of public awareness of the role of the agency and thus the job.
I hope that my tenure at the PSC will help to bring more focus to the agency and the role of the Commissioner.
BAMSouth: Thank you for answering our questions, Commissioner Bailey. We look forward to interviewing you on a regular basis and keeping us up-to-date on what we need to know.
Bailey: Thank you and I welcome the opportunity.