Kemper may never be fully realized

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 22, 2017

For more than seven years, Mississippi Power has been working on a power plant the company says will be the first of its kind.

It was supposed to be operational three years ago, and cost $2.4 billion to construct. Both of those targets have been exceeded.

When the plant was first announced, it sounded great on paper. The plant would be built next to a lignite mine, and burn that form of coal cleaner than other current coal power plant.

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But several issues have pushed the project back, and costs up. To this day it has yet to burn the lignite company executives promised, instead relying on natural gas to produce power.

The problem with the cost overruns is that they are affecting rates charged to customers.

Many customers of Mississippi Power may feel a bit jilted that the company is trying to recoup part of its losses in the construction of this plant by increasing rates. As a result many of those customers have been hoping the Mississippi Public Service Commission would step in and do something.

Finally, this week, the Commission indicated intentions of pulling the plug on the plant, which is now expected to total $7.5 billion, according to a story by the Associated Press.

The Commission gave Mississippi Power 45 days to agree to some form of a settlement, but the story does not elaborate on what that settlement would be.  What the story did outline was a plan for rates to stay where they are, if not decrease as a result of the settlement.

While the plant sounded like a great idea when it was first proposed, it is time for the Commission to step in and take matters into its own hands. Based on all of the previous overruns and problems with the plant, if the project were allowed to continue, the cost to finish the plant would only continue to rise, thereby increasing the burden on ratepayers.