MS Power Kemper plant fight continues - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

MS Power Kemper plant fight continues

(Photo source: WLOX News) (Photo source: WLOX News)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

WLOX News has obtained a new legal document that just might impact your power bill, and your bank account.

A 24-page document attempts to block the Mississippi Public Service Commission from setting new rates for Mississippi Power customers. The group objecting to the new rate plan contends customers shouldn’t be asked to pay Mississippi Power a dime for the lignite plant until the entire facility is in service.

Opponents filed the brief just days before the PSC is expected to vote on a new Mississippi Power rate plan. 

The opposition group includes Chevron, Keesler Air Force Base and Greenleaf CO2 Solutions. They question the deal negotiated a couple of weeks ago by the power company and the public utilities staff. They contend it’s premature to ask customers to pay any amount for the lignite plant until the entire facility is on line.

Currently, the plant is producing natural gas. Opponents note in their joint parties’ post-hearing brief, “The Kemper Project was never intended to operate exclusively on natural gas.” 

In the brief filed Tuesday with the PSC, the opponents argue, “The Commission should not attempt to determine prudence of the In-Service Assets at this time, but should defer any consideration of prudence until the entire Kemper Project – the project which was designed and certificated – is placed in service.”

In monthly filings with the Public Service Commission that detail the costs associated with the $6.3 billion plant, Mississippi Power has admitted Kemper County won’t be fully on line until the middle of 2016.

The rate deal now under scrutiny focuses on what the PSC allows Mississippi Power to charge customers for the Kemper County plant. Instead of adding 18% to your bills each month, the rate hike being proposed would be dropped to somewhere between 13-15%. 

The percentage would allow Mississippi Power to recover $159 million.

Wednesday evening, Mississippi Power spokesman Jeff Shepard sent the following statement to WLOX News:

"For more than a year, the Kemper County energy facility's combined cycle power plant has been generating electricity for the benefit of Mississippi Power customers with no permanent cost recovery. Cost recovery is appropriate after a facility begins commercial operation.

The Kemper combined cycle has been in operation since August 2014  and has delivered more than 3.5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity to customers. The agreement reached by the company and the Public Utilities Staff is for in service assets and must still be approved by the Public Service Commission."

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