Earlier today, the Mississippi Public Service Commission unanimously passed the “Hire Mississippi” rule, a measure designed to bring more Mississippi-based companies to the market of utility contracts. The rule, introduced by Chairman Brandon Presley in May, requires much more aggressive notification and reporting requirements by rate-regulated, investor-owned utilities to track when and how the companies are reaching out and awarding contracts to Mississippi-based companies. The goal of Hire Mississippi is to increase the use of Mississippi-based companies for public utility contracts and create a more transparent and open bid process to boost economic development and employment in the state.
Hire Mississippi requires that
One of the key innovations in the rule to ensure that Mississippi contractors are made aware of opportunities is the Hire Mississippi List.
The Hire Mississippi List will give utilities and ratepayers the advantage of a more competitive bid process and will provide additional, state-specific information to increase transparency in bidding.
According to an economic impact study prepared by the Public Utilities Staff, operations and maintenance expenses in 2016 of the five major electric and gas utilities was approximately $810 million. This does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on construction projects. In 2016 only approximately 30% of these contracts went to Mississippi companies, while out-of-state businesses enjoyed a whopping 70% of contracts issued.
“I am sick and tired of seeing out of state vehicles on construction sites in my Mississippi when I know that Mississippians are footing the bill for those projects. I have zero doubt that MISSISSIPPI companies could be doing that at least some of that work if they were given the chance,” Chairman Brandon Presley said.
“My goal is to tear down the glass wall surrounding these multi-million dollar contracts and give Mississippi-based companies the chance at that work. It’s past time to put Mississippi first!”
Central District Commissioner Cecil Brown added, “For Mississippi’s economy to grow, we need our young people to stay in the state and work. With this new rule, our hope is that more Mississippians will have an opportunity to earn a living in any corner of the state.”
Hire Mississippi will go into effect 30 days after it is filed with the office of the Secretary of State. The Commission will annually review compliance with all aspects of the Hire Mississippi Rule.