Facing Baseload Act consequences

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 2, 2015

The time has come for the legislators who voted for the Baseload Act of 2008 to face the consequences of their actions. This just happens to be the time for them to do just that.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Baseload Act, it can also be called Advance Cost Recovery. The legislature in 2008 created a new section to the Mississippi Code allowing Mississippi Power to build a new power plant in Kemper County using unproven technology. Not only is it unclear whether the “gasification” (which is a technical word for capturing the harmful emissions and trapping them in the ground) is truly clean; but the entire plant may never start up at all. Under the terms of the Baseload Act, the Public Service Commission received authority to charge customers for the plant costs before the plant is complete. We are paying for “pre-construction, construction, operating and related costs’ incurred in connection with the plant. It also forces customers to repay the utility for expenses even if the project is not finished or never produces electricity. Rep. David Baria (then Democratic Senator) of Bay St. Louis, attempted to amend the Baseload Act to provide relief for customers below the Federal poverty level and on fixed incomes.

He offered another amendment to assure the increased rates be returned to the customers if the plant was abandoned by anyone other than Federal mandate. Both failed.

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The Public Service Commission has allowed Mississippi Power a 22 percent rate increase. To date, Mississippi Power has increased rates by 18 percent. All of the increase is used for the construction of Kemper, which is over $2 billion over cost and has not produced one-kilowatt hour of power yet. The impact of the 18 percent increase is very far reaching. Last year, the University of Southern Mississippi increased tuition citing $1 million in electric costs for the previous year due to Kemper.

An independent study found that besides paying more for services they never received, the 23 counties covered by Mississippi Power lost a total of 4,840 jobs in one year. The remaining 59 counties grew by an average of 200 jobs. In a state with one of the highest unemployment rates, we do not need additional loss of jobs for a “science project” that has been abandoned or shutdown for its inability to function in other locations. Kemper was supposed to be generating power in 2014; but that date keeps getting pushed back.

Now is the time to become educated on the voting records of the politicians on the ballot in November. Gov. Bryant as Lt. Governor pushed this bill through the Senate. Every Pearl River County representative and senator voted for the act. These are the same legislators who refuse to fund our schools, refuse to help our hospitals by accepting federal funds, refuse to raise minimum wages, and look to pass laws that will cost our state legal fees in their defense. The Public Service Commissioners approved the 18 percent increase.

Visit our website at www.prcdec.com.

By Agnes Dalton.