2003 Regular Session
To: Public Utilities
By: Representative Ellis (By Request)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 77-3-23, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO MAKE CLEAR THAT THE MISSISSIPPI NATIVE LOAD CUSTOMERS HAVE FIRST PRIORITY TO THE USE AND/OR BENEFIT OF FACILITIES IN A PUBLIC UTILITY'S RATE BASE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 77-3-23, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
77-3-23. It shall be lawful, under the conditions specified below, for public utilities to sell, assign, lease, transfer or otherwise dispose, including, without limitation, any change in control of (a) certificates of public convenience and necessity issued to them under the provisions of this article, or (b) any substantial part of its property necessary or useful in the performance of its duties to the public, including corporate stock that is not publicly traded.
Whenever a purchase, lease, assignment or transfer is proposed, the utility or utilities or the person seeking authority therefor shall present an application to the commission in such form as may be prescribed by the commission. Thereupon the commission shall notify the applicant or applicants and other parties known to have a substantial interest in the proceedings of the time and place for a public hearing at least twenty (20) days prior thereto, unless the commission shall find that public convenience or necessity requires that such hearings be held at an earlier date. Notice of all such hearings shall be given the persons interested therein by mailing such notice to each public utility which may be affected by any order resulting therefrom and by publication in a newspaper having general circulation in the county or counties wherein the facilities or areas that are the subject of the application are located. If, after such hearing, the commission finds that the transaction proposed is in good faith, that the proposed assignee, lessee, purchaser or transferee, is fit and able properly to perform the public utility services authorized by such certificate and to comply with the lawful rules, regulations and requirements of the commission, and that the transaction is otherwise consistent with the public interest, it may enter an order approving and authorizing such sale, lease, assignment or transfer upon such terms and conditions as it shall find to be just and reasonable and with such modifications as it may prescribe. Whenever such a transaction involves facilities that are included in the rate base of a public utility, the commission shall include, as a prerequisite to its finding that the transaction is consistent with the public interest, a finding that, upon the consummation of the transaction proposed: (a) (i) the native load customers of the public utility will continue to have a first priority to the use and/or benefit of such facilities, or (ii) any loss of such first priority by native load customers to the use and/or benefit of such facilities is not contrary to the public interest; and (b) any native load customers served by any transmission facilities shall be served on the same basis as before the transaction.
Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, the application may be granted as applied for without a hearing in uncontested cases; however, the commission may hear any uncontested case if it determines that the public interest will be served thereby.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.