/Another delay for Kemper County plant

Another delay for Kemper County plant

In its Monday quarterly financial report, the Atlanta-based Southern Co. disclosed that the utility company expects the plant will be online by October 31. This is an increase from Sept. 30, which was the plant’s expected completion date since April. According to Jeff Shepard, a Mississippi Power spokesperson, the extension will add $43 million to the project’s costs. The company will not pay customers for those additional costs. Shepard stated in an email that the $43 million additional cost announced today includes the extension of the timeline and the estimate to complete remaining commissioning activities and bring fully-online the plant. “Specifically, the testing of the gas cleanup area.” This raises the total project cost to $6.8billion, more than twice the original estimate. The original estimate for the plant and its lignite coal mine was $2.9 billion. Since August 2014, the Kemper County plant has been running on natural gas. The plant was also expected to convert lignite (a type of coal) into a gas that could create electricity and remove carbon dioxide. Shepard stated that the coal section of the plant was delayed by harsh weather. Due to delays and increased costs, lawsuits have been filed against Mississippi Power. A U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation has also been launched into the cost and schedule of the plant. The company announced that the plant had begun producing synthesis gas from lignite on July 15. This was a significant step towards full operation. According to the company, the next step will be using the gas to generate electricity at the plant. Mississippi Power Co. and Southern Co. reported July 26th in a U.S Securities and Exchange Commission filing, that they expected to spend an additional $9 million on their Kemper County power station. Thomas Blanton, Hattiesburg’s oil businessman, was the plaintiff in the state Supreme Court case in which Mississippi Power ordered it to refund its 186,000 customers in 2015. Blanton said that he wasn’t surprised to learn about the latest delay in the project’s schedule and price rise. Blanton stated that he expected them to push it back “again and again.” Blanton stated that it is unlikely the project will be as successful at the initial price because it requires unprecedented technology, a large project from the laboratory to commercialization and delicate heat and materials to ensure everything goes smoothly. Blanton stated that they started building the plant with only 15% of the drawings completed. Blanton said, “It was pie in the sky, and they had burnt the crust and turned the filling into pudding.” To support this important work, you can make a regular donation today to celebrate our Spring Member Drive. Our reporters give a human face to policy’s impact on everyday Mississippians by listening more closely and understanding their communities. To ensure that our work is aligned with the priorities and needs of all Mississippians, we are listening to you. Click the button below to let us know what you think.