MS Power to break ground on Kemper County plant

DEKALB, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi Power will break ground Thursday on its next generation of power plants. Mississippi Power touts then $2.4 billion Kemper County Integrated Gasification Plant as a step toward energy independence in Mississippi.

The company fought a long battle to get to this stage, including questions from the state Public Service Commission and protests from environmental groups. One of the big issues was how the Mississippi Power would pay for the plant.

The company wanted to pass along the construction cost to customers right way. After hearings with the PSC, the company reached an agreement to delay adding that to power bills until 2012.

Mississippi Power selected Kemper County for the plant site because it has huge lignite coal reserves that remain largely untapped. Mississippi Power will take the lignite and turn it into a gas and added to its fuel mix to create electricity.

Construction of the Kemper County plant will create about 1,000 jobs. Mississippi Power expects to create 260 permanent jobs. The first two stages of construction are scheduled to take all of 2011 and 2010, with construction of the plant in 2012 and 2013. The Kemper County plant is expected to begin operations in 2014.

Mississippi Power's website says "the local lignite will provide decades of low-cost fuel and avoid huge price swings associated with uncontrollable fuel markets. It is the lower cost fuel available - and with a 4 billion ton reserve in Mississippi - we Mississippi Power can secure a stable fuel source while reducing our dependence on foreign fuel for future generations, due to its abundance and affordability."

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