Sierra Club
Sierra Club Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 13, 2012

Contact:

Jenna Garland, jenna.garland@sierraclub.org, (404) 607-1262 x 222 

Mississippi Power Co. to Ask PSC for $100M Rate Increase for Kemper County Coal Plant

New Filings Show Plant Already $366 Million over Budget

Jackson, MS – As Mississippi Power prepares to ask the Public Service Commission (PSC) for a $100 million rate increase, filings from the independent monitor of the Kemper County Coal Plant show Mississippi Power Company (MPC) has spent $366 million past the budget with the plant less than one-third complete. MPC has said it expects rates to increase by 30% to pay for the new coal plant, although independent analyses have found that a 45% rate increase is more likely.

“The Sierra Club warned the PSC of this exact scenario,” said Louie Miler, Director of the Mississippi Sierra Club. “The Kemper County Coal Plant is not even one-third complete, yet they’ve blown through the contingency fund and are $366M over budget. We’re on a crash course to blow the budget even more, and it’s time the PSC stepped in and protected the ratepayer from Mississippi Power’s dirty, expensive, unnecessary, and experimental Kemper coal plant.”

The May 2012 report from URS Corporation, which is serving as the independent monitor of the Kemper County coal plant project, documented cost overruns of $366 M from a filing from Mississippi Power Company on May 10, 2012. This report documents that with only 31% of construction complete, Mississippi Power has exhausted its $167 M contingency fund and has overspent in engineering and construction costs, as well as other areas.

“The Kemper County Coal Plant is fast becoming Mississippi’s biggest financial boondoggle,” said Glen Hooks, Beyond Coal Campaign Representative with Sierra Club. “Duke Energy’s Edwardsport Plant is the only other project of this nature in the country, and it is already more than $1 billion over budget and is not yet complete. How far will this disaster go before the PSC steps in and rights this wrong?”

Sierra Club has challenged the Kemper County Coal Plant project from its inception, successfully arguing before the Mississippi Supreme Court that the PSC had improperly and illegally issued permits to Mississippi Power for construction and development of the project. Sierra Club and Commissioner Brandon Presley have also argued that Mississippi Power ratepayers should not be required to finance the construction, development, and operation of the Kemper County Coal Plant. Mississippi Power, the smallest of the Southern Company state-based utilities, has only 180,000 ratepayers in Southern Mississippi.

“To add insult to injury, Mississippi Power will ask for $100 M in rate increases to finance the Kemper plant on June 22, just days after the public learns that the project is already $366 M over budget,” said Louie Miller. “If this project is so great, the PSC should let Southern Company – a Fortune 500 company - and its shareholders pay for it. Instead, Commissioners Bentz and Posey want to stick the ratepayers with the tab. The PSC needs to do the right thing and pull the plug.”

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