Even as summer winds down, many Mississippians continue to face painfully high monthly electric bills associated with that favorite warm-weather staple known as air-conditioning.
But thanks to recent pro-consumer, pro-business actions taken by the Mississippi Public Service Commission, the goal of energy independence is now on the doorstep of all Mississippians — or in this case, their rooftop, as in rooftop solar!
In July, the Commission adopted a strong rule that puts rooftop solar within reach for Mississippi families, businesses, and schools, while sending a clear message that the state is open for solar business. But all of this stands to be undone if greedy utilities have their way.
Homeowners of all income levels and small business owners will be eligible to receive an upfront $3,500 rebate to install solar panels on their roofs and use that power to light up homes and businesses. Every Mississippi household is poised to reap even bigger energy savings when federal tax credits kick in through the Inflation Reduction Act, which will cover 30 percent of the costs to install solar panels and battery storage systems.
Among the Commission’s key provisions is that 50% of the rebate will be set aside for low-to-moderate income customers that earn up to $69,000 annually for a family of four. This incentive would bring much-needed relief in slashing high electric bills for 41% of Mississippi households. With the remaining 50% of the rebate available for higher earning households, Mississippi is now one of the leading states in the country for advancing equitable renewable energy policy.
Not only does the independence of generating your own electricity mean lower energy bills for families and small businesses but any extra power produced can be sold back to the utility company, or stored in batteries for customers to use at night, or as a backup power source during cloudy or bad weather.
And, just as important, more rooftop solar means more economic development by expanding opportunities for in-state installers and manufacturers, attracting new businesses, and boosting employment opportunities with thousands of new, good-paying jobs for Mississippi workers.
Even our public school system is being motivated to take advantage of Mississippi being rated eighth in the nation for solar-energy potential. Innovative Solar-for-Schools programs and up-front rebates will bring the cost-saving benefits of solar to school districts statewide through lower electric bills that ease taxpayers’ burdens and free up more academic resources for teachers and students.
Transforming families, schools and businesses into energy self-suppliers means true energy independence — a major win for Mississippians that monopoly utilities are working hard to ensure never sees the light of day.
These monopolies, Entergy Mississippi and Mississippi Power Company (a subsidiary of Southern Company), headquartered in New Orleans and Atlanta, respectively, have a long and checkered history of deliberately keeping solar out of reach for their customers, while they work to reap big profits from building dirty, expensive power plants such as Mississippi Power’s failed $7.5 billion-dollar Kemper boondoggle.
Entergy Mississippi’s latest effort, in comparison, comes on the heels of a $300 million-dollar settlement — the largest in the Commission’s history — alleging the company overcharged their customers for a nuclear power plant that did not run. In New Orleans, this same corporation was fined $5 million dollars over a scandal that involved hiring paid actors to speak at public meetings in support of a proposed power station.
Clearly, these multi-billion dollar corporations recognize solar power is a bargain, but they want to continue dominating the electricity market by blocking Mississippians from getting the energy independence they deserve.
These utilities have filed challenges with the Commission that are aimed at stripping homeowners, businesses, and yes, even our public schools, with the right to generate their own electricity, so that customers remain saddled with high electric bills while they continue to reap billions in annual profits by keeping a monopoly on the energy market.
The reality is that corporate monopolies are working to take away affordable energy choices for Mississippians and hamper the growth of our state’s economy. With a public hearing set for Sept. 27 in Jackson, it’s critical the Commission know Mississippians support a strong solar rule that benefits all of us, and we won’t stand for letting greedy utilities take our energy independence away.