The Mississippi Public Service Commission could have two new members after the 2019 election.
Central District Commissioner Cecil Brown announced Monday that he won't be seeking a second term on the three-member commission that regulates utilities and that the 74-year-old Democrat won't be running for any other office in 2019.
Only PSC chairman and Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley has announced that he'll be running for re-election. Southern District Commissioner Sam Britton, the sole Republican on the PSC, has not announced his plans and could be mulling a run for state treasurer.
Brown's announcement was made at the Stennis Capitol Press Forum, where Brown was the guest speaker.
There are still things for Brown to accomplish before his term ends in January 2020, including advocating for a bill that could allow electric cooperatives to offer broadband service for rural areas. In the short term, he says that he and the Central District staff will be meeting with Entergy Nuclear officials Friday about reliability issues with the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station in Port Gibson.
A Mississippi Matters investigation found the nuclear plant has not operated as the reliable base load (up and running all of the time) plant that the company needs over the past three years, according to an examination of records from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. During that time, Grand Gulf's reactor has been the lowest rated among reactors of similar design when the daily reactor status reports issued by the NRC are averaged over a year's time.
"I am interested about these reports of how it (Grand Gulf) is operating and if they're accurate," Brown said. "What are the reasons for it and what can we do about it? We're in contact with them about it."
The NRC sent Entergy a letter on November 5 about Grand Gulf's performance, saying that an indicator had crossed a green to white threshold and that a supplemental inspection would soon be performed.
Since 2005, the reactor's performance, which is reported by Entergy and other nuclear plants to the NRC daily, has been either the lowest rated among similar reactors or the next lowest. The performance average allows one to see how much the plant has been shut down or derated (not run at its full generation capacity) for maintenance, repairs or upgrades over a year's time.
In addition to his time on the PSC, Brown served 16 years in the Mississippi House, was the state's chief financial officer and was chief of staff for former Gov. Ray Mabus.
Brown also advocated for Medicaid expansion in Mississippi and says the state doesn't spend enough money on teacher salaries, K-12 spending and mental health, among others. He also said that the repeal of the state's franchise tax is needed since it will cost the state's general fund millions and only affects out-of-state corporations.