GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Public Service Commission has decided that in years to come, Mississippi Power will have to generate more electricity for its customers than it does now. That decision comes after public hearings the PSC held in Jackson.
It also clears the way for additional public hearings in front of the PSC next year. At those hearings, the power company will try to convince commissioners that a $2 billion power plant in Kemper County, that would use a poor grade type of coal called lignite, is the right way to go.
"The Commission will have an opportunity to ask questions of us," Mississippi Power's John Atherton said. "The interveners will also have a chance to ask us questions. That is the point at which we will take the steps to prove our Kemper County facility is the best option for our customers."
Power company officials maintain that if they are allowed to build the plant, it will save consumers millions of dollars a year. Critics argue that is wrong and the plant will be too expensive, as well as bad for the environment.
The hearings should take place in February in Jackson. Atherton is confident the PSC will give Mississippi Power the go ahead.
"Quite frankly, we think we have a very compelling case, and we think the commission will certainly find with us on this."
Leonard Bentz is the Public Service Commissioner for the Southern District. He cautioned the process has only just begun and there are many factors the PSC will take under advisement.
"I do believe that was a very premature statement," Bentz said. "I believe they feel confident in their case, but as far as a crystal ball as to how the PSC goes, I do believe that was a premature comment."
If the plant is approved, the decision could come in late spring. If they get the approval, the power company hopes the Kemper County facility could be on line by the year 2014.