KEMPER COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - When the new Mississippi Power Kemper County Lignite plant opens in 18 months, it will use millions of gallons of water a day to keep the equipment cool. Usually, that means using water from a nearby lake or river. But not this plant.
A reservoir, that covers 75 acres and is about 35 feet deep, will provide the cooling waters to the Kemper County plant. Filling it to capacity will take months. So where is all that water coming from?
About 20 miles south from the city of Meridian with the help of a very long pipeline. It's treated wastewater the city used to get rid of.
"We have the opportunity to essentially recycle the water that the city normally discharges, and pipe it up here that we can use it, and use it in our processes as well," Mississippi Power Chemical Products Manager Jay McFarland explained. "Then on the backside, we're a zero process water liquid discharge facility, so that means none of the water coming out of the reservoir will make it into our streams and rivers."
Getting the reservoir up and running was a major goal for the company with construction deadlines looming.
"This is a big milestone because the reservoir is starting to get filled," Mississippi Power Spokesman Jeff Shepard said. "That's going to take about four months to have it filled, and that will allow us to have process water on the plant site once we're ready to get things started up."
"We won't be upgrading our facilities for this," Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry said. "Mississippi Power has really done all the work and it's going to be a total revenue to the city of Meridian starting at about $144,000 a year, and we hope for that to grow as this plant grows."
And while the city makes money, others will save.
"For Mississippi Power rate payers, this is the most economical for our water source for the plant, so it's a good deal for us," McFarland said.
Testing of the gasification system is expected to begin next summer and the plant should be fully operational by May of 2014. The total cost of the power plant is $2.88 billion.