The move comes as Russia continues its unprovoked war with Ukraine that began last week.
On Tuesday, the Mississippi Public Service Commission met for its monthly meeting, during which they made a call for any of the state’s utility providers to cease business operations with any Russian companies.
Commissioner for the Northern District, Brandon Presley (D), requested utility providers submit information to identify any dealings with Russia or Russian companies along with their plans to sever those ties in response to what is happening in the Ukraine.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, declaring war of the Eastern Europe democratic country.
“While I know that it is highly unlikely that any of our regulated utilities have either directly, or indirectly or through their parent company, any transactions or ties with Russia at this time, I would ask that every one of our regulated utilities, particularly those of you in electric power and natural gas sector, we come back to meet here in March the eighth….that you explain to the commission what those ties are and what your plans are to sever them in reaction to what we are seeing around the world,” said Presley.
This push comes after Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann’s remarks that Mississippi should sever any and all business ties with Russia whether that be in vodka, PERS, or something as small as paperclips and pencils.
Chairman Dane Maxwell, Commissioner of the Southern District, said he is aware that there is some nuclear fuel that is purchased from Russia and expects to hear from that business on the changes.
The conversation began with Chairman Maxwell making remarks on the threat of cyber-attacks from Russia and how the conflict in the Ukraine began in a similar way. Maxwell said if this threat grows enough in the U.S., it could impact significant infrastructures like financial networks, transportation networks, energy systems and energy networks.
While the PSC is not known for regulating or establishing rules and procedures in the cybersecurity realm, Maxwell said many are now focusing their attention on any vulnerabilities in this infrastructure.
“It is for these reasons, that in the coming weeks, I will be sitting down with the colleagues to discuss how best to proceed, to adequately protect Mississippians from outside cyberattacks on our critical infrastructure. We do not know when an event might occur, but we do know is that there are bad actors out there, and the result of an attack can be catastrophic,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell added that urgent priorities include strengthening existing protections for the energy generation and distribution system as well as the overall power system, natural gas systems and other regulated infrastructure as well as enhancing coordination at all levels and accelerating the development of robust protocols for response and recovery in the event of a successful attack.
Commissioner Presley agreed with Maxwell’s statement, noting that a former group working on cyber-security be revived.
“Our thoughts and prayers with folks on the other side of the world in Ukraine dealing with that,” summed up Central District Commissioner Brent Bailey.