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Kemper Coal Plant Gets Temporary Go Ahead

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 30 Mar 2012 04:00pm | comments
Louie Miller leads a December protest against the plant.

Today is the deadline for Mississippi Power to submit a long term plan for construction of a controversial power plant in Kemper County. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that construction on the plant has been stop and go as the courts, activists, and the company battle over the plant.

The plant...which would be powered by a low grade coal called lignite....had been put on hold by the Supreme Court before the company was given temporary permission to resume construction last week.

Jeff Shepherd with Mississippi Power says the plant is a reliable and affordable way to produce electricity.

"Our goal is to have a diverse energy portfolio and adding lignite to it in the long run will be the best option for our customers to keep prices down. Natural gas prices are now low. That is why we are burning so much of it right now. But you cannot get a forecast for 40 years on Natural gas. But we know for 40 years what our prices will be," Shepherd said.

Shepherd says the company will file for a long term construction permit.

The Public Service Commission met for less than a minute on Friday and approved the temporary order by a 2-to-1 vote.

Northern District Commissioner Brandon Pressely is the lone dissenting vote...He feels the decision is violates state law.

"When a carpenter puts trusses into a home that is not a temporary act that is part of building the house. These are definitely permanent acts they are not temporary acts. And I think the legal idea that the commission used to get to this point is totally erroneous and misconstrues of state law," Pressely said.


Some Mississippians and environmental activists have opposed the plant, calling the lignite fuel dirty, untested, and expensive.

Louis Miller with the environmental group the Sierra Club critiqued the lack of public comment at the meeting.

"It is because they know that Kemper can't stand the light of day. When you look at the new fuel cost for natural gas, Kemper is a loser," Miller said.

Miller says the Sierra Club plans to appeal the ruling.

The Commission could vote on a permanent construction ruling as soon as tomorrow.

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Louie Miller leads a December protest against the plant.


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