Public Service Commission chairman explores rural broadband issues

Published 10:00 am Saturday, March 19, 2022

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NATCHEZ — Mississippi Public Service Commission Chairman Dane Maxwell toured several Mississippi counties and facilities owned by electric cooperatives to explore broadband possibilities.

This week, he visited Southwest Electric Cooperative’s Adams County facility, which he said was enlightening.

“They have some real challenges—wide spots of land with no residents,” he said. “I learned a lot from that tour and understand a lot more today than yesterday. … The biggest topic was the challenges they face getting broadband to residents with so many vast areas—there are literal hills they would have to climb and deep valleys. … We’re looking at creative ways to help them with the federal funding we’re getting.”

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Despite the challenges, Maxwell said he was impressed with Southwest’s system.

“They have one of the best facilities I’ve ever toured,” he said adding they have “invested into their grid.”
“We all want clean, affordable energy,” he said. “We (the Public Service Commission) find constructive ways to help them.”

Maxwell’s visit to Adams County didn’t stop there. He also sat down with officials of Adams County Emergency Management and Adams County Sheriff’s Office to discuss the Public Service Commission’s role during disasters and their partnership with Mississippi’s Emergency Management Agency.

“In the event of a disaster, hurricane, ice storm, even a flood. I want my team to have eyes on this area,” he said. “It’s all about building relationships. … We’re doing this monthly all over the place, building a network of friends. I don’t want to go to my office in Jackson and stay there.

My responsibility is out in the district. When a disaster hits, I want to be able to pick up the phone and call the emergency management director because I know him personally.”