PSC, MS Power reach an impasse over Kemper settlement

PSC, MS Power reach an impasse over Kemper settlement

KEMPER COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Settlement talks between the Mississippi Power, a team of the public utility staff members and a group of interveners have not produced the results the Public Service Commission expected.

The power company and PSC staff remain divided on ways to reach the desired settlement the PSC ordered last month regarding the Kemper County energy facility.

Mississippi Power filed a multiparty settlement agreement Monday and is now awaiting approval from the PSC.

Last month, the PSC ordered Mississippi Power to enter into settlement talks with all parties involved in the troubled power plant project. Commissioners gave a 45-day window to reach a settlement.

Since then, Mississippi Power said it sent a proposal and counter proposal to PSC staff. Both were rejected.

In this new filing, the power company agreed to three terms requested by the PSC.

First, Mississippi Power customers will see no additional rate increases related to the Kemper project.

Second, customers will not be on the hook for costs related to the lignite coal components of the plant.

Third, the Kemper County energy facility will continue to operate only as a natural gas burning facility. The plant has been producing electricity using natural gas since 2014.

Mississippi Power says it also wrote off more than $6 billion for the remainder of the project, including construction and start-up costs. Those charges will not be passed down to customers.

"The company believes this is a fair resolution that will make sure customers are not subjected to a rate increase related to the Kemper gasifier," said Mississippi Power Chairman, President, and CEO Anthony L. Wilson.

The power company says it has negotiated in good faith with all parties and is hopeful this settlement agreement will be approved. If it's rejected, company officials further stipulations could negatively affect the company's ability to provide the same level of service it has provided in the past.

"It is unfortunate that some parties are more interested in proposals that could decrease the strength of the company and place our operations at risk," said Wilson. "We stand ready to continue discussions with other parties on this settlement to reach an equitable solution for all."

The PSC said it plans to review all filings by the end of the week and set a status conference involving all parties to determine how to move forward.

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