Mississippi Power Company in Court Over Kemper FacilityBy Paul Boger | Published 20 Nov 2013 08:30am |
The Mississippi Power Company, finds itself in court over whether it can legally charge consumers for the Kemper County Coal Plant now under construction in East Mississippi.
In a suit filed before the state Supreme Court, Hattiesburg resident Thomas Blanton claims Mississippi Power's recent rate increases act as an illegal tax, because consumers are not receiving any additional services. Blanton believes Mississippians are instead being forced to invest in a facility that may never show any return.
"This is Mississippi Power taking money, building a plant and giving us no stock, no bond, nothing." said Blanton. "If you ask me to put up money, give me something in return. Now, everybody says you're getting electricity, and the answer to that is 'No, we have to pay for the electricity, and the fuel, and the operations maintenance and all that on top of this.' Now, clearly that's unconstitutional."
In addition to Blanton's suit, the Mississippi Sierra Club has also filed a brief calling into question the constitutionality of a law which allows Mississippi Power to sell up to a billion dollars in bonds for construction of the plant. The Sierra Club argues that the legislature over stepped it's authority when it passed a law allowing Mississippi Power to collect even more money from tax payers than Public Service Commission had previously deemed was within the public's interest.
Louie Miller is with the Sierra Club.
"This is unprecedented." said Miller. "It took a legislative act that was signed by the governor to give them a billion dollars outside of the whole arena in which all of this is supposed to happen which is the Public Service Commission."
While Mississippi Power is fighting the suit, a spokesperson for the company said in a statement that the case will not affect the companies right or ability to continue construction of the Kemper facility. Citing the 2010 certification by the Public Service Commission that said the plant was the best option to meet Mississippi Power customers’ future energy needs.
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