Mississippi Power CEO defends proposed plant

By Jeff Lawson - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Members of the Sierra Club claim the new power plant Mississippi Power wants to build isn't really needed. They also insist it will cost too much, and would be bad for the environment.

Mississippi Power CEO Anthony Topazi said the Sierra Club has it all wrong.

Topazi admits the price tag, which exceeds $2 billion, is steep. However, he argues that because the plant will use lignite and not natural gas, millions of dollars will be saved.

"The energy savings for my customers, will amount to $200 million to $400 million a year," Topazi said.

Topazi calls lignite a poor grade coal. If the plant is built, the lignite will be turned into a gas that will then be used to make electricity.

Topazi said natural gas is the most expensive and volatile fuel that can be used to make electricity. That's why he said many maintain that using lignite is the right choice.

"Lignite will be, by far, the cheapest and most stable, using a mineral under utilized today in Mississippi," Topazi said.

The state of Mississippi already has some four billion tons of lignite in the ground.

Opponents of the plant argued at a hearing in Jackson earlier this month that the Kemper County plant should not be built. They point to the cost and also maintain it will be bad for our environment, a point Topazi disputes.

He said lignite is clean coal technology.

More hearings will be held before the Public Service Commission ultimately decides if Mississippi Power can go ahead with its plans.

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