/Long-time critic will not challenge Kemper power plant settlement

Long-time critic will not challenge Kemper power plant settlement

Thomas Blanton, an oil businessman from Hattiesburg, was the plaintiff in the state Supreme Court case in which Mississippi Power was ordered in 2015 to refund its customers. Blanton announced Tuesday that he would not appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court’s February 6 order of the Mississippi Public Service Commission approving a settlement. Blanton had considered appealing to the Supreme Court two weeks ago over the underlying issues in the settlement process. One was the way the commission voted on amending the plant’s original licence so that it can only run on natural gas and not require a new Certificate. Blanton stated in a public statement that there is no statutory authority for amending an existing Certificate of Public CONvenience and Necessity. Brandon Presley, Chairman of the Commission, stated that he supports the settlement process and thanks Blanton for bringing many issues before the public. Presley stated, “He has done extraordinarily as an citizen.” “We did extensive legal research and spoke with multiple attorneys to confirm that the action was legal and in compliance with state statutes.” Blanton stated that extending the litigation around the Kemper plant would not benefit ratepayers. According to the statement, “Blanton is not confident that any successful appeal to Mississippi Supreme Court will result in a different outcome than the political settlement adopted through questionable means by the Public Service Commission.” The Mississippi Public Service Commission approved a settlement proposal for Kemper County’s energy facility. This will relieve customers from paying for its multi-billion dollar coal gasification technology. Mississippi Power customers will instead be charged for the plant’s natural gas. They have been using it since 2014. The commissioners stated that customers will pay $99 million per year over an eight-year period, which includes federal tax cuts. Southern Co., Mississippi Power’s parent company will take on the majority of $6.4 billion in project cost billed to Mississippi Power for the plant’s coal-gasifier technology. This decision comes after years of concerns and questions about the 582-megawatt project. Since the Kemper plant was built in 2010, Mississippi Power Co. has been experiencing delays because of bad weather, labor shortages and incorrect time and materials estimates. The original plan called for a new technology to convert the abundant lignite coal into a synthesis gaz; remove carbon dioxide from the gas; then, send the “cleaned” syngas to an electric-generating plant. It was expected that the plant’s technology would reduce carbon emissions by injecting carbon dioxide into nearby pipelines. Oil companies could then purchase the gas to inject into the fallow oil fields, bringing valuable crude oil to the surface._x000D