JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - The company that has accused Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood of needlessly probing it for information is asking a federal judge for protection against Hood's demands.
Power provider Entergy Corp. says Hood has no reason or authority to issue Civil Investigative Demands to the company and on Monday filed for an injunction against Hood in federal court. Hood had filed suit against the company in Hinds County Circuit Court last week.
"We have asked Entergy to 'turn on the lights' and justify its recent rate increases by releasing information about its business practices," Hood said in a release. "Our requests have been denied, and now Entergy must tell a judge why a public utility should be allowed to hide these documents."
Entergy seems happy to share why it hasn't. In its complaint, it calls Hood's investigation "a fishing expedition, commanding the production and delivery of great volumes of documents and information, relevant or irrelevant, in the hope that something will turn up, evading regular administrative jurisdictions, processes and protections."
It also claims that it is only subject to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's rules. Hood issued the CIDs to Entergy, Entergy Mississippi and Entergy Services, which has a principal place of business in New Orleans.
Entergy owns three more companies for the other states in which it conducts business.
"ESI, as well as EMI and the other five Entergy Operating Companies, are the parties to a FERC-regulated rate schedule that provides the basis for the integrated planning, construction and operation of the electrical generating and bulk transmission (and other) facilities," the complaint says.
"(FERC) has exclusive administrative and regulatory jurisdiction over the transmission and sale of electrical energy in interstate commerce."
Hood asked Entergy for information regarding its pricing and fuel buying and selling in the past 10 years. He says the state's Consumer Protection Act allows him to investigate.
Hood claims Entergy Mississippi buys electricity and fuel for Mississippi at inflated rates from its sister companies and overcharges Mississippi customers.
He said Entergy agreed to refund $72 million over similar allegations in Louisiana in 2000 and was ordered to pay $34 million to New Orleans customers in February.
"Our question from the start has been: If Entergy has nothing to hide in Mississippi, then it should be eager to release the documents we have requested and show our ratepayers that they are not being overcharged, especially during these times of economic hardship," Hood said.
Entergy says it deserves an injunction because it will likely prevail in its argument.
"The CIDs are per se unreasonable, and for several separate reasons," the motion for injunction says. "Beyond this, there are any number of indicia of unreasonableness which, considered in the aggregate, show that the CIDs easily exceed the minimum 'unreasonableness' threshold for a Fourth Amendment violation."
From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at email@example.com.