MS Power submits rate hike options to pay for Kemper Co. plant

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - We now have a much clearer indication of how much you'll pay to get electricity from Mississippi Power's new Kemper County lignite plant. WLOX News spoke with Mississippi Power CEO Ed Holland on Friday.

Holland stressed the company's goal is to protect its customers, but he also noted the company must have a financial plan in place to operate its new plant.

A short time ago, Mississippi Power submitted three rate hike proposals to the Public Service Commission.

Depending on which plan is adopted, your power bills will go up an average of $6 a month to $37 a month.

"We've got to have rates sufficient to recover the investment that we've made in the plant, and recover the costs of the operations of the plant, and that's what the traditional filing will do," said Holland.

According to a Mississippi Power news release, the traditional filing is the most expensive option on the table with a 41.1 percent rate increase. That means rates would jump $17 a month in the first year and another $20 a month in year two. Power company officials say you will pay more than that if you use more than 1,000 kilowatts of electricity each month.

"We do not want that to happen," said Holland. "We have a very viable and beneficial option for our customers that is on the table. And again, it is the one we would far prefer."

Mississippi Power's preferred option is to follow the initial rate increase of 22 to 24 percent approved by the Public Service Commission. If that happens, power bills will go up between $6 and $9 a month.

Option three raises your power bills $5 in the first year, and $29 dollars in year two.

"Southern Company has done what it committed to do and has paid for the cost overruns, and what we are asking the customers to pay is what they were going to pay again from the very beginning," said Holland.

Still in limbo is whether Mississippi Power must rebate money back to its customers. The Supreme Court ordered the rebates, saying rate increases customers paid over the last two years shouldn't have been approved.

Holland is hopeful that ruling will be overturned, but nobody has said when that decision will be announced.

"We have not changed our opinion at all in terms of their opinion, and the implications of that and what that might mean ultimately for our customers. And from a timing standpoint, we are awaiting the ruling on our rehearing request," said Holland.

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