Motion denied: Court rules against Mississippi Power

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 13, 2015

Thursday, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied a motion to rehear the decision in the case Mississippi Power Company, LLC vs the Public Service Commission, thereby upholding the February decision, that requires the company to issue refunds to customers.
According to court documents, the Supreme Court found increased rates to recover costs for the Kemper County energy facility for 186,000 South Mississippi ratepayers to be unlawful.
According to an Associated Press article, the court found the increase illegal because hearings were not conducted to ensure Mississippi Power was spending money prudently on the $6.2 billion Kemper plant.
About five years ago, construction began on the 582 mega-watt electric power plant, the Mississippi Power website states. A majority of projected costs were reflected in customer rates in 2013.
According to a Mississippi Power release, on May 15, the company filed rate proposals with the Mississippi Public Service Commission to recover eligible costs for the Kemper project.
One proposal includes keeping rates at current levels until the facility is placed in service, which is expected to be during the first half of 2016, the release states. At that point, there would be a monthly increase of about $6 to $9 for a residential customer having a monthly usage of 1,000 kWh.
The company also filed two other options, the release states, a traditional and two-year rate mitigation plan. The traditional plan would result in a monthly increase of approximately $17 for a residential customer with a monthly usage of 1,000 kWh in the first year. The second year’s increase would require additional rate filings by the company, resulting in an approximately $20 monthly increase, for an overall increase of $37, the release states.
The two-year rate plan would require a monthly increase of approximately $5 for a residential customer with a monthly usage of 1,000 kWh in the first year and an additional $29 a month in the second year, for an overall increase of $34, the release states.
In a statement released Thursday, Mississippi Power expressed disappointment with the court’s decision, but will continue to do everything reasonable to protect the interests of their customers and the company.
The company stated in the release they will work with the Mississippi PSC to determine the next steps in the process and continue working to lower the impact on customer bills, the release states.
On May 20, South Mississippi Electric Power Association announced their withdrawal from pursuit of Kemper ownership.
In a release, SMEPA cited delays in project schedule, changing needs and increased participation costs as reasons for withdrawal. In 2010, SMEPA entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement with Mississippi Power for 17.5 percent of the Kemper plant, a figure that was later reduced to 15 percent, the release states.
Coast Electric Media Services Executive April Lollar said Coast Electric purchases 100 percent of their power from SMEPA. Of that total, 28 percent is purchased at a wholesale rate from Mississippi Power.
“At this point, there is still speculation concerning how rates will be affected,” Lollar said. “A percentage of that 28 percent will be reflected in our member’s rate, which is good for our members because their rates won’t be affected as big.”

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