Mississippi Power's Plant Daniel gets a major upgrade

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi Power Company's Kemper County facility, now under construction, has gotten the lion's share of publicity in recent months, much of it bad. But there's another company project underway much closer to home, and certainly not as controversial.

Plant Daniel in Jackson County is getting a major upgrade.

Shooting up into the sky, it's simply called the stack. Inside will be something called scrubbers, designed to make the coal fired plant more environmentally friendly.

"It will reduce our air emissions greatly. Mercury emissions over 90 percent, S02 emissions will reduce and it will ensure that we maintain compliance with the EPA regulations of 2016," Plant Manager Valerie Wade explained.

The project is on schedule, according to Project Manager David Schmidt.

"We're roughly about 25 percent done with construction activities, mainly in our foundation and site relocation work," Schmidt said.

The cost of this project is $660 million. Paying for it will be debated in the future, according to Mississippi Power Spokesman Jeff Shepard.

"The construction costs are currently not being recouped from customers, so that's not on anybody's bills. There have been no rate increases because of that," Shepard said.  "We will work with the Public Service Commission in the future to determine the best way to recover the cost."

Speaking of work, there's plenty of it at Plant Daniel, Schmidt said.

"Currently, we have over 300 craft construction employees out here, over half of which are Mississippi employees.  At peak, which will be next year in 2014, we expect somewhere around 600 employees."

While the cost overruns at the Kemper County facility have been well documented, starting at $2.4 billion, then going to $2.8 billion, and now at $3.4 billion. That's not the case at Plant Daniel.

"It's a much smaller project, just the stack and the scrubber system as opposed to a complete generating facility," Shepard explained. "And also, Southern Company has built eight of these across our generating fleet, so this is something that we've done."

The new scrubber unit is scheduled to go on-line no later that April of 2016. When finished, the new stack will be 621 feet high, making it the tallest structure in South Mississippi.

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