October 31, 2020

Bill to allow electric co-ops to offer internet heads to governor’s desk

Pending the governor’s signature, Mississippi may soon allow the state’s 25 electric cooperatives to sell high-speed internet service.

Mississippi lawmakers Wednesday passed a measure to free electric cooperatives to offer high-speed internet service. Currently they are banned from doing so.

The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday for House Bill 366 , sending it to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature or veto.

The measure would let Mississippi’s 25 electric cooperatives form subsidiaries to offer broadband internet service.

The bill, sponsored by Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn of Clinton, has been championed by Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, a Democrat.

Cooperatives wouldn’t be required to enter the internet business and current customers wouldn’t be required to buy service.

The measure allows cooperatives to invest money, loan money or guarantee loans to affiliates, but says they can’t use revenue from electric sales to subsidize broadband.