MS Power pushes back Kemper Co. plant opening to late June

Updated: Jun. 5, 2017 at 5:30 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A report released Monday pushes back the projected in-service date of Mississippi Power's Kemper County plant until the end of June, raising the overall cost of the project by another $22 million.

The company also revealed it found a flaw with its syngas cooler superheater system, and the redesign of that system will add an extra $164 million to the plant's price tag.

Adding those costs together means Mississippi Power must raise the final cost of the Kemper County lignite plant by an additional $186 million.

The plant is already billions of dollars over budget and several years behind schedule.

Mississippi Power also filed a plan to avoid further raising customer rates to pay for the plant. That plan still has to be approved by the Public Service Commission.

Mississippi Power released a statement Monday that said, in part:

"Mississippi Power is not filing for a full rate review on recovery of the project's costs at this time. The company and the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff have been discussing the status of the project and the nature and timing of a rate filing to address recovery of the remainder of the Kemper project costs not currently in rates. Mississippi Power continues to develop a traditional rate case and a rate mitigation plan to address these costs; however, the timing of that filing is uncertain.

The component of the Kemper project currently being recovered in rates includes a portion of the project's combined cycle generating plant, which has been supplying approximately one-third of the electricity used by Mississippi Power customers since August 2014. The plant has primarily been using natural gas as fuel, but has also been using syngas from the project's gasifiers during testing and operation at periods throughout the year."

The Mississippi Public Service Commission released the following statement Monday:

"On Monday, June 5, 2017, Mississippi Power Company filed a rate review proceeding which requests no rate increase and only pertains to the portion of the Kemper County Power Generation Facility that is currently producing electricity by burning natural gas. No assets relative to the lignite coal portion of the plant are included in this filing. Consistent with its duty to protect the public interest, the Commission will review the filing in the manner prescribed by state law and Commission rules and procedures.  The Commission will continue to monitor any plans Mississippi Power Company may have for other filings regarding the Kemper facility.  As information becomes available, details will be released.  A copy of the current filing will be posted on the Commission website on June 6, 2017."

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