Mississippi Power Rate Hike RejectedBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 22 Jun 2012 05:04pm |
Mississippi Power is continuing work at its Kemper County coal-fired power plant despite the rejection of a requested rate hike. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the company claims it needed to help pay for the plant.
The Kemper County plant has gone over its projected cost of 2-point-4 billion dollars and could now cost Mississippi Power close to three-billion dollars.
Dozens of people, mostly opposing the 6 month rate hike, packed the Public Service Commission Hearing room Friday,
Before calling for a vote to deny the hike, Southern district commissioner Leonard Bentz says the commission should wait for the Supreme Court to clear up lingering legal questions surrounding the plant before raising rates.
"However, I believe it to be prudent for this Commission to deny any means of cost recovery from ratepayers until the Mississippi Supreme Court makes their ruling. I do believe the plant is needed and will benefit the rate payers of the state Mississippi. However, it is my motion at this time that we deny it,” Bentz said to applause.
All 3 commissioners opposed the rate hike.
Louie Miller with The Sierra Club, whose law suit the commissioner is citing, says the rate denial could endanger the future of the facility.
"This company, I think, misrepresented material facts to the Public Service Commission by withholding information that they were 366-million dollars over budget," Miller said.
The increase would have cost the average consumer an additional 20-dollars a month.
The denial likely means Mississippi Power will get none of the $58 million it had requested to pay debt on the plant's construction.
Moses Feagin, Mississippi Power's CFO, says the rejection will not stop work at the plant.
"We have just got to go back and evaluate and rework the number and see where we stand. I was a little surprised, yes. Because we have demonstrated the need for this facility. I would like to just go back and evaluate it," Feagin said.
The rejection vote means that Mississippi Power could appeal the decision in court or request another rate hike that would take effect in 2013.
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