MS Power CEO Ed Holland weighs in on settlement with Sierra Club

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Mississippi Power CEO Ed Holland is calling last Monday's settlement between the power company and the Sierra Club over the Kemper County lignite plant a win win.

New federal environmental standards along with the settlement with the Sierra Club calls for Mississippi Power to repower, convert to natural gas or retire several units at three of its plants, including Plant Watson in Gulfport.

Holland says those obligations are all things his company would have otherwise done. He visited with WLOX News Wednesday to share more about the settlement and the latest on the Kemper County Plant.

Though the obligations in the settlement between the Sierra Club and the power company include having to do something's in a different way, Holland says the customers will ultimately benefit.

"It absolutely is a win win. We are doing some things that we would have otherwise done. We are doing some things in a way that we might not have done in the way that we agreed to do them in the settlement," said Holland.

Holland says a highlight of the settlement includes establishing and funding a $15 million grant for an energy efficiency and renewable energy program with the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

"In terms of energy efficiency, it's predominantly conservation measures that were put into low income homes that will lower their power bill to those who are least able to afford to pay. From a renewable standpoint, things that I am very excited about is we'll be able to do some demonstration solar projects at some schools," Holland said.

Those demonstrations will happen this year and will give students in elementary schools to colleges a chance for hands on experience on renewable energy. As for the facility that prompted the settlement, Holland expects the Kemper County plant to be online by mid-2015.

"What most people don't realize is the energy out of this plant will be among the lowest cost energy of any plant on the Southern Company system and certainly on the Mississippi Power system. This plant will run 100 percent of the time. It will run like a nuclear plant because fuel, the lignite that it's providing the energy is abundant. We have a set fee for that over the next 40 years," Holland said.

Watch Holland's full interview on News Watch This Week with David Elliott and Doug Walker at 8:30 Sunday morning.

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