World leaders tour MS Power Kemper Co. lignite plant

KEMPER COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The eyes of the world are on Mississippi as more counties look for ways to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels. Leaders from eight nations toured Mississippi Power's new lignite plant in Kemper County where new technology will allow carbon dioxide to be captured and stored. Also making the trip was the United States Secretary of Energy. He said Mississippi is a pioneer in what will be the future of energy production.

Because lignite is cheap and plentiful in most parts of the Earth, Mississippi Power officials said when word spread the Kemper County plant would be turning lignite into electricity, it didn't take long for the world to take interest.

"Half of the world's electricity is produced by coal. Forty percent here in the United States. Half of the world's coal reserves are low rank coal like lignite," said Southern Company President Thomas Fanning. "Here is an example of a technology that's been brought to bear. We can take a resource that otherwise goes unused and we'll gasify it. We'll remove 65 percent of the CO2 so it's carbon footprint is in fact less than natural gas."

Energy officials from countries looking for ways to produce cleaner energy went to Kemper County. They wanted to see for themselves the technology that captures carbon dioxide then stores that it so it can be used for oil recovery. The United States Secretary of Energy said the Mississippi plant is setting a path that the rest of the world will follow.

Secretary Ernest Moniz said, "It's just a tremendous integrated plant. It's the plant of the future. We're going to need not 10, but maybe 100 more of these plants across the country in the future."

Norway's Minister of Petroleum and Energy said he's impressed with the plant, but knows getting this type carbon capture sequestration facility built in Europe wouldn't be easy because of the expense of construction.

"I do understand why this is very expensive to do this. There are no facilities in Europe. So this is the first time I've seen a CCS project this size," said Minister Tord Lien.

"I do understand this is going to be difficult to actually achieve. Every time someone builds a carbon capture and storage project like this it contributes to bringing the costs down," said Minister Tord Lien. "That is a key to bring this a world wide thing.

When asked about the rate hikes, the United States Secretary of Energy said a rate increase is nothing unusual for any new major power plant that comes on line.

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