Mississippi’s main supplier of electricity, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), recently announced plans to stop providing power to any and all cannabis-related sites.
On Thursday, however, things changed when the TVA announced it would not turn off the lights and was planning to ask for federal guidance.
First things first. The reason behind the decision to cut the lights was simple: the TVA was following federal law as it is a federally-owned utility. According to a document obtained by the Daily Journal and confirmed by the TVA, which stated the following: “Given this important point, TVA will not direct any federal resources or funds to the cultivation and/or distribution of marijuana.”
It was, however, unclear at the time if municipal companies that receive TVA power would be allowed to provide it to legal marijuana facilities.
The news came on the heels of Mississippi becoming the 37th state in the Union to legalize medical marijuana after Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed a bill into law.
“We want to be clear about TVA’s position on the implications to our energy service to Mississippi customers: TVA has an obligation to serve our customers with safe, reliable, low-cost energy and we will continue to do so. There will be no interruption in service because of this newly signed law,” TVA stated. “The broader issue is a complex one and represents a conflict between state and federal law. We are looking to the appropriate federal agencies for further clarification and have requested additional guidance.”
Simply put: “Our service to our customers remains unchanged and we will continue to carry out our mission.”
On Thursday, the North Mississippi utility regulator also noted that the TVA can’t block local utility companies from providing electricity to medical cannabis facilities, reported the Daily Journal.
Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley confirmed that local utilities in North Mississippi that acquire wholesale power from TVA are in fact under obligation by state law to serve all customers.
“It is a long-held principle in state law that electric utilities have an obligation to serve customers without discrimination,” Presley stated. “A licensed medical marijuana facility under Mississippi law is no different.”
He further added that TVA’s previous statement may have made some medical cannabis facilities think about relocating.