For Immediate Release: March 30, 2012
Sierra Club Files Motion to Mississippi Supreme Court After Public Service Commission Illegally Authorizes Kemper Plant Construction
Jackson, MS – The Sierra Club is taking legal action after the Mississippi Public Service Commission shocked the public this morning by authorizing Mississippi Power Company to continue construction on the Kemper County coal plant in a meeting lasting less than one minute. Sierra Club attorneys immediately filed a motion to the Mississippi Supreme Court asking the Court to prevent the Commission from taking this illegal action[i].
“Commissioners Bentz and Posey basically told Mississippi Power they’re exempt from state law,” said Louie Miller, with Sierra Club. “With our filing, Sierra Club is asking the Supreme Court to say that’s wrong. Mississippi Power is not exempt from the law, and the Public Service Commission does not have the authority to bypass state law. The state Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling revoking the Kemper plant permits, and the PSC must hold a full hearing before Mississippi Power can continue construction on this dirty, expensive, and unnecessary plant.”
This morning’s meeting lasted less than one minute. Commissioners Leonard Bentz and Lynn Posey voted by voice in favor of the order to authorize Mississippi Power to continue building the Kemper County coal plant. Commissioner Brandon Presley voted in opposition and filed a dissenting opinion. Meeting attendees were not allowed to address the Commission.
Mississippi Power filed for emergency authorization from the PSC on Wednesday, March 28, several hours after the PSC announced the public meeting.
“We do not believe this qualifies as an emergency under Mississippi law,” said Miller. “Because the Kemper plant is nowhere near complete, it’s not producing energy. Only threats to service are considered emergencies under state law.”
In his dissenting opinion, Commissioner Brandon Presley agreed with Sierra Club, stating that “rose-colored glasses” allowed “the majority to bypass state laws about certificate proceedings, redefine ‘temporary’, and brush away apparent cost overruns while forcing customers to bear risk for untried technology[ii].”
“Many people drove in Thursday night to attend this meeting,” said Linda St. Martin, President of Mississippians for Affordable Energy. “This meeting was held outside Mississippi Power’s service area, so those affected by the enormous rate increases to pay for the Kemper plant were unable to attend. To add insult to injury, the Commission didn’t allow anyone to give comments. Commissioners Bentz and Posey completely disregard ed due process and the public interest.”
The Sierra Club continues to call for a full hearing on the Kemper County coal plant case to determine whether the proposed plant is in the best interest of Mississippi Power ratepayers.