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Kemper County Power Plant Hits Snag in MS Supreme Court

By Daniel Cherry | Published 16 Mar 2012 05:12pm | comments
Protesters gather at the state Capitol building against the Kemper coal power plant last December

A multi-billion dollar coal fired power plant under construction in Kemper County has suffered a setback in the Mississippi Supreme Court. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how supporters say the ruling is just a bump in the road, but opponents hope the plant is gone for good.

The state high court told Public Service commissioners to clarify why they eased financial terms under which Mississippi Power could build the 2.7 billion dollar coal fired power plant. The PSC has to prove allowing the project is in the best interest of ratepayers. Louie Miller is the President of the Mississippi Sierra Club. His organization filed the lawsuit against the PSC. He calls the court's 9-0 decision a resounding victory.

"We feel very vindicated by the Supreme Court. This is what we've been saying all along. This project is dirty, it's expensive, and it's unnecessary."

Mississippi Power ratepayers would have to shoulder a rate increase to fund portions of the project. For Johnny Whitsett, President of the Kemper County Board of Supervisors, the project is a necessity.

"You're getting 2,000 jobs in one spot, and I think Kemper County is blessed to get something like this. For these environmental groups to try to shut it down....I think it's preposterous."

Mississippi Power says they hope the issue is sorted out soon, and they plan to continue construction on the plant. Patrick Sullivan of the Mississippi Energy Policy Institute says he expects a quick resolution.

"I fully expect the PSC to go back and do the work that the Court has asked them to do, and I fully expect to see the plant to move forward, continue construction, and be in operation as scheduled."

Supporters say they expect the plant to be up and running by late 2013, assuming the PSC can prove valid reasoning for green lighting the project. The two Public Service Commissioners who previously approved of the project were unavailable for comment.

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Protesters gather at the state Capitol building against the Kemper coal power plant last December


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