Permission for power cooperatives to offer internet advances

Source: MGN

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A measure to allow Mississippi electric cooperatives to offer high-speed internet is taking another step forward.

The Senate Energy Committee approved House Bill 366 Tuesday, sending it to the full Senate for more debate. It passed the House last week.

The measure would let Mississippi's 25 electric cooperatives form subsidiaries to offer broadband internet service. They're currently banned from doing so.

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.