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Court Hears Sierra Club and Mississippi Power Arguments On Kemper Lignite Plant

By Rhonda Miller | Published 14 Sep 2012 09:00pm | comments

The Sierra Club is continuing its legal push to stop Mississippi Power from using coal in its Kemper County plant.  While a Harrison County judge is reviewing the issue, MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports construction on the power plant is moving forward.

During the four-hour legal standoff in Harrison County Chancery Court Friday, Mississippi Power attorney Ben Stone accused the Sierra Club of focusing only on its own agenda.

"They really only want to get rid of coal as any sort of a source of power in the United States of America."

Mississippi Power’s Kemper County plant under construction is designed to use a soft form of coal called lignite in a gasification process to generate power.  Mississippi Sierra Club President Louie Miller says the technology is expensive and unproven. 

"The way out of this mess, that is a win-win for the company and a win-win for the ratepayers of this state, is to drop the gasification part of this facility, which is the expensive, experimental part of the plan. And then convert this thing to natural gas. It’s already wired, they’ve got two 24-inch natural gas lines going up there to dry out the coal anyway."

While the Sierra Club wants to eliminate the gasification process, Mississippi Power spokesman Jeff Shepard said the company is already setting milestones with construction.

"We moved part of the gasifier into place this week. That is the equipment that will house the technology that will convert the lignite to the gas, which is the premier technology that separates this power plant from, basically, every other power plant in the world."

Mississippi Power said the lignite plant will diversify sources of fuel and save customers money in the long-run.

The Sierra Club is asking the court to reconsider the Public Service Commission’s approval  for the lignite plant.

Chancery Court Judge Jim Persons said he expects to render a decision in three-to-four weeks.  By that time, construction of the lignite plant is expected to be 70 percent complete.  

Rhonda Miller. MPB News. Biloxi.





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