Know Thine Enemies in Mississippi: PSC Commissioners Bentz and Posey

by Dr. Tom Baldwin, Biloxi, MS*

March 19, 2012


In what may become known as a “Landmark Decision”, the Mississippi Supreme Court voted 9 to 0 on Thursday, March 15, to remand Mississippi Power’s permit for  the Kemper County boondoggle back to the state Public Service Commission. The Court decided that the PSC had not adequately explained why it reversed its initial April 2010 ruling–which denied the permit.  In May 2010, the PSC reversed itself  (and approved the project)  with an increased budget of $2.88 billion after initially denying the permit to build the Kemper plant at a budget of $2.44 Billion. State law requires the PSC to provide adequate evidence of its reasoning in case a decision is appealed. And in this case, the court decided, this evidence had not been provided by the PSC.   

Furthermore, the process had been set in motion to begin charging the ratepayers for construction costs at the start on the construction!  MS Power had already made its announcement of requesting approval by the  PSC for the first “installment” on those payments by increasing rates for ratepayers by more than 11% in its January 2012 billing.  The atrocious behavior of MS Power and the PSC was about to be exposed with this giant scam.   A major puzzling piece of this puzzle occurred in the one month between April 2010 and May 2010 as the MS Supreme Court recognized in its hearing in December 2011.  Had  it not been for the Sierra Club’s suit, ratepayers were about to be charged 2.9 billion dollars for a piece of experimental junk whether it worked or not.  Considering MS Power has about 180,000 ratepayers in MS,  that amounts to over $10,000 per ratepayer.  How you feel about dem barrel of apples which are rotten at the core?

Two PSC Commissioners, Leonard Bentz, Southern District and Lynn Posey, Central District were responsible for this impending disaster.  In contrast, Brandon Presley, Northern District was the “Lone Ranger” who courageously opposed what he called “Corporate Socialism”.  It might be more accurate to define Kemper as  “Corporate Fascism” or “Corporatism”, something we are witnessing in other cases throughout the nation and especially in Mississippi by the energy industry. For the record, “Corporatism” was first defined as the merger of corporate with state power by Benita Mussolini in the early part of the 20th century, before Hitler and the German Third Reich added racism to the mix.

Therefore, it is important that everyone “get to know” your two Commissioners Bentz and Posey.  We intend to make them “famous” for all to see.  And we invite all Occupy Movements to join us in this effort as well as those who are concerned about the economic and environmental welfare of those in Mississippi!

* A special thanks to Professor Will Watson of USM for his editorial comments.

Public Service Commissioner’s Bentz and Posey, as per their official “bios”:

About Commissioner Bentz

Commissioner Bentz

Leonard Bentz represents the Southern District of the Public Service Commission and is currently serving as Chairman. He previously served as chairman of the Commission in 2008. Commissioner Bentz has been committed to a life of public service. Commissioner Bentz started serving the public as a Harrison County Deputy Sheriff in the patrol, narcotics, and investigations divisions until 1999. Upon leaving the Sheriff’s Department, Leonard went to work for the Mississippi Public Service Commission as a utility investigator where he worked for the Commission until 2003. In 2004 Commissioner Bentz ran for, and was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives representing District 116. He served in the House of Representatives until April 2006. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Southern District Commissioners office was vacated, leaving an unexpired term to fill. Governor Barbour, who knew Leonard’s unwavering commitment and his record for making tough decisions, appointed Leonard to fill the unexpired term. In 2007, Commissioner Bentz ran for and was elected to the office of Southern District Public Service Commissioner.Commissioner Bentz understands that Federal intrusion in the utility business is the driving force behind such initiatives as cap and tax and unrealistic environmental controls. These intrusions will severely handicap rate-payers in Mississippi. This is one reason why he will take a proactive, creative, and common sense approach to solving problems. Commissioner Bentz remains committed to his conservative values and principles to insure that the rate-payers are protected.Commissioner Bentz is a member of the Mississippi and National Republican Party, Gulf Coast Honor Flight, Rotary, Area Development Partnership, Mississippi Farm Bureau, various Chambers, National Rifle Association, Ducks Unlimited, National and Mississippi Right to Life, USM Eagle Club, Mississippi Rural Water Association, various Regulatory Associations and Young Professionals.Commissioner Bentz, 40, is a ninth generation Mississippian and is married to his high school sweetheart, the former Amber Fayard, of D’Iberville, MS. They reside in Woolmarket with their two children, Len, age 19 and Hunter, age 14. The Bentz family belong to and attend, St. Mary’s Church in Woolmarket.

About Commissioner Posey

Commissioner Posey

Lynn Posey is currently serving as Central District Public Service Commissioner and is also Chairman of the Commission.Commissioner Posey was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi. He is a graduate of Copiah-Lincoln Community College; as well as Mississippi State University where he earned a B.S. degree and a Masters degree in Public Administration. He is also a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Banking.Commissioner Posey served in the Mississippi State Senate from 1988-2007. While in the Senate, Commissioner Posey served 16 years as Chairman of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and was a member of the Public Utilities Committee for 16 years. He also served as a sub-committee chairman on Appropriations, Business and Financial Institutions, Economic Development and Forestry. In addition, Posey also served as the Chairman of the PEER Committee, as well as the Founder and Chairman of the Mississippi Sportsman Caucus.
Commissioner Posey is married to the former Kathy Singletary of Crystal Springs, MS. They reside in Union Church, MS. and have two children, Hunter and Kaitlyn. The Posey’s belong to the Union Church Baptist Church. 

Whether you live in MS or not, please sign and submit this petition as a vote for clean energy and the environment.

Just a few days ago, Mississippi’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously 9 to 0 that Mississippi Power and the Public Service Commission (PSC) broke the law when they approve the Kemper dirty coal plant.1 With your support, Sierra Club had opposed the plant, which would cost ratepayers $2.88 billion in …

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