Mississippi Power plans new $2B Kemper Co. plant

Published 1:09 am Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mississippi Power Co. has formally filed an application with state regulators to build a $2 billion power plant in Kemper County.

The state-of-the-art plant would be the first advanced gasification generating facility with carbon-capture capabilities in Mississippi, and one of the first in the country, the company said in a statement released Friday.

Chief executive officer Anthony Topazi says the plant is necessary to meet the needs of its customers in Mississippi and to help reduce the cost of fuel to those customers.

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“This plant will diversify our fuel sources and will produce energy at lower and more stable costs than any other fossil fuel option,” Topazi said.

Topazi said the plant will use lignite coal mined locally in Kemper County, which is just north of Meridian in eastern Mississippi. Lignite is a softer, brown form of coal that is not widely transported or exported from the United States because it holds less energy.

Using lignite coal “creates significant energy cost reductions for our customers, such that over its life, the energy savings more than offset the cost of building the plant,” Topazi said.

Through coal gasification technology, the company says the plant would both produce electricity and capture 50 percent of its carbon dioxide byproduct. The carbon dioxide would be compressed and sold to a company that will inject it into depleted oil wells around Mississippi in an effort to wring more oil from those sites.

“We have studied the fuel sources and generation resource options available to us, and have determined that the … technology, using locally mined Mississippi lignite, is the best option to provide affordable and environmentally responsible electricity for our customers’ growing needs,” Topazi said.

Mississippi Power hopes to begin construction in 2010 and to have the plant in operation by late 2013. No hearing date has been set by the Mississippi Public Service Commission.

Topazi said the project should create about 260 new permanent jobs from the plant and mine operations, plus 1,000 jobs during peak construction.

Mississippi Power is part of the Southern Company, which includes Alabama Power, Georgia Power and Gulf Power.

On the Net:

Mississippi Power, http://www.mspower.com