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Groups Say Kemper Power Plant is Over Budget and Behind Schedule

By Daniel Cherry | Published 19 Nov 2012 06:41pm | comments
Opponents of Mississippi Power's $2.8 billion power plant in Kemper County say the project is over budget and behind schedule. In spite of controversy, MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, Mississippi Power is pushing ahead with the plant.
 
Construction of the Kemper County power plant is less than 50% complete. That's according to a study from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. Mississippi Power says the plant is more than 70% complete...something David Schlissel with the institute doesn't believe.
 
"I have no idea how they calculated that because if you look at the commission's independent monitor report and the documents attached to that report, it's clear construction engineering are not 70% complete or nowhere near 70% complete."
 
The plant is designed to use a soft form of coal called lignite in a gasification process to generate power. A process touted as being much cleaner than traditional coal-fired power plants. Schlissel points out, back in September, projections showed the plant as only about 40% complete. Mississippi Power spokesman, Jeff Shepard contends, the plant is on schedule these are just obstructionist tactics. 
 
"I think this demonstrates this group's lack of understanding of this project as a whole. Construction makes up one part of the overall project status."
 
Mississippi Power projects part of the $2.8 billion plant will be financed by a 33% customer rate increase. Louie Miller, Director of the Mississippi Sierra Club, doesn't think ratepayers should be on the hook for the coal gasification technology, which has never been used on this scale.
 
"If Mississippi power is so jazzed and thinks that Kemper is the best thing since sliced bread, then let them take the gasifier and the chemical island, and build it on their own nickel, rather than have the ratepayers underwrite this."
 
Mississippi power says they plan for the plant to come into operation by May 2014, and the plant is the best, most economic long-term option to meet growing energy needs.

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