By Terry Harpole For the WPT
MABEN — On a cloudy and rainy evening in Maben on Aug. 30, Brandon Presley, Northern District public service commissioner, held a rural community meeting at Maben First Baptist Church gymnasium.
A light rain was coming down but a good crowd of people met Presley, who is traveling across North Mississippi in all 33 counties in his district to hold these town meetings.
In his opening remarks, Presley expressed his appreciation to all the employees of all the utility companies who were still out working to restore power to victims of Hurricane Isaac.
Presley, who is serving his second term of office, has always been a strong advocate of lower utility bills, and wants to keep the people informed and up to date, and that is the purpose of these town meetings. He discussed issues facing the people and took questions.
Presley stressed that the Mississippi Public Service Commission governs and regulates the utility companies, such as power companies, phone and internet companies, and even the rural water associations, and ensures they are operating under laws and regulations. Presley said he wanted to remind the people, “You who are served by these companies are the owners.”
He discussed the Ratepayers’ Bill of Rights that he was instrumental in getting passed in 2010, which states the rights customers of the utility companies have. He also discussed the Zap the Gap program, and that is when questions were asked about the failure of cell phone customers having trouble getting a connection in some spots.
Presley went on to tell the people that, once a year, the commission pays visits in all 33 Northern District counties to places that sell cell phones. Investigators interview customers as to whether the businesses, as required, informed them that they have a 14-day and in some cases a 21-day period to bring their cell phones back if they are not receiving good service.
Since Presley has been in office, the PSC meetings have come under the Open Meetings Law, and anyone with internet service may watch the commission’s meetings on the first Tuesday mornings at 10 a.m.
Those attending included two Oktibbeha County supervisors, the mayor of Maben and one of the two commission investigators who live in nearby Eupora. Afterwards, people stayed around talking and asking questions, and took forms from Presley to fill out for any problems or troubles.