“Hire Mississippi” — a mandate for utility companies to select more Mississippi contractors for projects in the state — received initial approval Thursday from the Public Service Commission.
Brandon Presley, chairman of the commission and chief proponent of the mandate, said utility companies hire too many out-of-state contractors for their Mississippi projects.
“It makes me sick to drive by utility projects that are being paid for solely by Mississippi customers and to see out-of-state tags that are getting that money,” Presley said.
The mandate will require electricity, gas, water and telephone service providers to report annually to the commission a list of Mississippi contractors who have contacted about participation in any projects above $200,000 that the company undertakes. This list would be updated quarterly.
Utility companies awarded any project above $200,000 must mail notices of that project to Mississippi contractors on their Hire Mississippi list.
Utility companies must also seek Mississippi contractors and vendors to join their project notification lists via advertisements in newspapers, the commission’s website and the utilities’ websites.
Whenever a company chooses an out-of-state contractor for one of its contracts, it will have to explain to the commission why it chose an out-of-state contractor over a Mississippi contractor.
Presley this is the first rule of its kind created by any public service commission in the country.
After a period of public notice and comments, the mandate will be introduced for final approval by the PSC this fall. Utilities would need to submit their list of contractors to the commission in July 2018, Presley said.
The mandates states that the commission may reimburse “all prudently incurred incremental costs associated with compliance with this rule.”
Presley said those costs would be minuscule and would include things such as stamps and envelopes.
As with all PSC mandates, penalty for non-compliance goes up to $5,000 per day per incident, Presley said.