Customers react to MS Power's extra charges

By Ashley Conroy

KEMPER COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Dirty, expensive and unnecessary. That's the reaction from those objecting to the proposed Kemper County Coal Plant after a week long set of hearings from the Public Service Commission.

"Mississippi Power is a regulated monopoly," said Sierra Club Senior Regional Representative Louie Miller, "and it's time the PSC step up to the plate and put them in a competitive environment."

Mississippi Power is asking for customers to pay now for the construction costs, even though construction wouldn't begin until 2014. Some are angry with the proposal.

"It is nothing but a Ponzi scheme that eminent domains the check books of Mississippi rate payers," said Linda Martin with the group Mississippi for Affordable Energy.

For those who support the plant, they say it's an avenue for jobs in the state and recovery for Mississippi's economy.

"While there is some cost to building the plant, long term you're looking at what will this save over a period of time," said Blake Wilson, Mississippi Economic Council President and CEO.

Protestors are also concerned this project will be an environmental hazard to the state. But Mississippi Power Company says that's not the case. Representatives stress that energy generated from the plant would be "clean coal" using lignite, one of Mississippi's natural resources. They say it will be the first of its kind for energy in Mississippi.

"This plant is going to be the first in the world to capture 65 percent carbon. That is unprecedented in our industry," said Cindy Duvall with Mississippi Power.

The Public Service Commission won't make a final decision before May first. Until then, commission members said they will consider all the information they're presented, including the environmental impact of building and constructing the plant.

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