Presley, who spoke Monday at the Mississippi State Stennis Institute/capitol press corps luncheon, has come under criticism because of his votes in opposition to some utility companies' requests.
"We need to have a cooperative relationship with the utilities we regulate, but not a 'roll over and play dead' relationship," said Presley, chairman of the three-member commission.
He was the only commissioner to oppose a bid by Mississippi Power to build a power plant generated by lignite in Kemper County.
The plant is expected to create about 260 jobs in a depressed area of the state and also has been praised as an innovative approach to developing cheap, clean electricity. The plant is supported by both Republican Gov. Haley Barbour and the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama.
Presley, the former mayor of Nettleton, said there is no guarantee that the innovative technology planned for pulling the lignite from the ground will work. Plus, he said there might not be a demand for the plant if natural gas prices continue to fall.
His main objection is that Mississippi Power Co.'s ratepayers, primarily in south Mississippi, are financing the $2.8 billion plant and would be left paying the bill if it does not work.
"We are spending other people's money," he said.
Presley said he would rather have waited five years to see how the technology improves and to see what happens with natural gas prices.
"I am all for innovation," said Presley, a Democrat who is in his first term on the PSC. "But I don't think we should divorce anyone from responsibility. That is what we have done here."
Presley also said the state needs to deal soon with the issue of net-metering, a practice in which a business, such as a farm, or even a homeowner generates electricity and is allowed to sell some of the excess to the power company.
"It is high time we do it," Presley said.
The PSC already allows net-metering, such as a chicken farmer producing power from waste products and selling the electricity back to the power company. But under current regulations, Presley said, the company can make it difficult for the poultry farmer to make a profit from net-metering.
Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.