By Lena Mitchell
Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
TUPELO – Whether a face-to-face meeting for Mississippi’s northern district public service commissioner and the Tennessee Valley Authority’s chief executive officer will lead to more autonomy for local power association boards remained unclear Wednesday.
Commissioner Brandon Presley invited TVA CEO Bill Johnson to meet with him in Tupelo after what Presley described as an unsatisfying outcome to a recent meeting in Iuka to address underbilling of a Tishomingo County Electric Power Association customer.
Pattie Ferguson, owner of Pattie’s One Stop in Tishomingo, was left with the expectation that she would pay about $18,000 for services that TCEPA failed to bill for her business over a two-and-a-half year period. Meanwhile, Ferguson had been regularly paying the amounts billed to her each month.
She received the bill in December 2013, followed later by a letter delivered by TCEPA Director Robert Grisham, outlining arrangements to repay the full balance of the underbilled amount.
After a March 28 meeting, Presley told the Daily Journal that the TVA manager had threatened a lawsuit against the power association if they forgave any portion of the underbilled charges. However, Johnson told the Daily Journal Wednesday that no one from TVA had made such a threat.
“I’ve talked with everybody at TVA in detail who was involved in this and was assured by all those folks that no such thing was ever said nor were we asked the question,” Johnson said. “I can find nobody at TVA who said this.”
Presley said his effort is to help local power associations break TVA’s stranglehold.
“I’ve been bringing complaints to TVA and fighting this battle for going on six years now,” Presley said. “The only thing they seem to get excited about is when I mention that the CEO of TVA makes $16,000 a day. It seems like more people at TVA are concerned about me criticizing them than solving their customers’ problems.”
Local power company boards have complete autonomy to act in their customers’ best interests, TVA’s Johnson said. “We certainly are not in control of that board or any board,” he said. “Those people are elected. They’ve made a decision here which is an appropriate local decision.”