Mississippi State Senate passes bill to allow EPAs to provide internet

The Mississippi State Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would allow local electric cooperatives to provide internet to Oxonians.

The bill, which will now make its way to Governor Phil Bryant’s desk, would give EPAs, like North East Mississippi Electric Power Association in Oxford, the ability to provide high-speed internet.

This legislation, known as “Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act,” has already found support from local leadership, as the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution before the turn of the new year after a request from Chairman of the Mississippi Public Service Commission Brandon Presley.

“The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors fully supports the EPA’s efforts to serve their customers with high-speed internet,” the Supervisors’ resolution reads, “and urges the Mississippi Legislature to pass legislation which will allow EPAs to provide high-speed internet serves to their members.”

Presely, who made his request to the Lafayette Supervisors last August, has been championing this bill across the majority of Northern Mississippi.

If the Governor passes the bill, however, EPAs wouldn’t be required to provide internet services, and existing customers wouldn’t be required to buy those services.

North East Mississippi Electric Power Association, an EPA in Oxford, is one of the cooperatives that would be allowed to provide internet services to Oxonians. The company has been voicing its support for the bill on social media.

The bill allows cooperatives and EPAs to invest and loan money, as well as guarantee loans to affiliates. However, the legislation does say EPAs cannot use revenue from its electric sales to subsidize broadband costs.