By Alyssa Schnugg
The Tennesse Valley Authority sent a letter Friday to Public Service Commissioner for the Northern District Brandon Presley with a formal response on their position in regard to providing power to electric companies that would provide power to medical marijuana facilities.
The back and forth between the TVA and Presley began in early February after Gov. Tate Reeves signed the state’s Medical Marijuana Program into law and the TVA released a statement on Feb. 7 that since it is a federally owned utility company it cannot provide power to a licensed medical marijuana facility due to possible conflicts with federal law.
On Feb. 10 on his social media sites, Presley stated that TVA is supplying power to local utility companies, like Oxford Utilities and North East Mississippi Electric Power Association, and should not be concerned about which business receives power from those local providers.
Presley also said TVA’s statement has already caused damage to north Mississippi by forcing some medical marijuana facilities to look at other areas of the state and possibly denying north Mississippian the benefits of the newly-passed Medical Marijuana Program.
On Feb. 10, the TVA released another statement that there would be “no interruption in service,” due to the new program and TVA was seeking guidance from federal agencies for further clarification.
The letter sent to Presley on Friday reiterated its previous statement.
“This complex issue involves a conflict between federal law and the recently enacted legislation in Mississippi. In particular, TVA wants to clarify that it will continue to serve local power companies in Mississippi with no interruption in service due to this legislation,” states the letter to Presley.
TVA stated it “respect the role of state government and the democratic will of their voters,” however, as a federal agency TVA is “required to adhere to federal law and regulations.”
“Marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Even where marijuana is legalized under state law, TVA must ensure that its sale of federal power under wholesale power contracts does not purposely facilitate the commission of a federal offense, including under the Controlled Substances Act,” the letter states.
TVA continues to consult with the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal officials, to assist TVA in understanding its obligations as a federal agency where state and federal law conflict on marijuana.
“We also welcome clarification from Congress on this issue,” TVA stated. “TVA will keep its local power companies and other stakeholders updated as we receive additional guidance.”
The letter briefly addressed Presley’s comments in regard to economic development and the lack of opportunities for north Mississippi to benefit from the new program.
“We recognize the opportunities for economic development that the new law presents in northern Mississippi. As we receive additional guidance from the appropriate federal agencies, we will share more insight and information,” the letter stated.