By Riley Manning
TUPELO – Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley challenged Mississippi’s largest natural gas companies to make efforts in expanding natural gas accessibility to rural areas.
“We can’t say an exact number of people who need this resource, but there are a huge number of communities who lack access to natural gas,” Presley said at a Monday news conference in Tupelo. “Especially with the winter we’ve had, we’ve seen a huge uptick in requests for it.”
In a letter to the CEOs of Atmos Energy and Center Point Energy, Presley requested the companies to file their plans through the Public Service Commission within 60 days.
Once plans are submitted, Presley said they will undergo the public interest process, in which the commission will evaluate the overall public good they provide.
“What I’m looking for is a pilot program,” Presley said. “Just a test to see what the best plan of action will be, and what the first steps are in building this infrastructure statewide.”
Presley called on Atmos and Center Point to consider residents both within their current franchise area, and in areas that do not fall under coverage.
The key to providing adequate resources and keeping costs down is to give them more options, Presley said.
“I want everyone who wants natural gas at their home or business to have it. One of the main ways to help Mississippians keep more of their money in their pockets is to give them choices,” he said. “And if they still want propane or butane, that’s fine, but they don’t have a choice without a natural gas pipeline running in front of their house.”