/The Kemper Plant is ‘99 percent’ complete Now what

The Kemper Plant is ‘99 percent’ complete Now what

Although the next-generation coal plant is being built to produce electricity, workers were unable to see it from the outside. A large, dome-shaped structure is located nearby that holds up to 100,000 tonnes of lignite. This type of coal is softer and more energy dense than the other types found in the Appalachian Mountains, but is abundant in Mississippi. The plant’s operators praise lignite as a cheap, abundant natural resource that is not subject to volatility in price or transport costs like other fuel sources. However, delays and cost overruns have put the Kemper County power plant more than two years behind schedule. This has led to the price tag ballooning by billions and a loss of trust in Mississippi Power Co.’s new technology. The unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. announced that the plant would be fully operational by November 30. This announcement was made just two weeks after Southern Co. officials had told Mississippi Today that the plant would be fully operational by October 31. This claim raised eyebrows among observers who have been following the project for many years and have seen many deadlines change over the years. The Kemper project’s story will continue even after the switch is turned on. The Mississippi Public Service Commission regulates public utilities and will hold a series known as Prudency Hearings. These hearings will determine whether ratepayers or the utility company will bear the increased costs of the plant over the years. These hearings will determine if the plant is able to operate reliably and supply electricity at a reasonable price. These meetings are designed to allow Mississippi officials and citizens to address a fundamental question that has been lingering in the minds of Mississippians for many years: Was the decision to build the Kemper County power station the right one? Ratepayers expressed concerns at the completion of the project, as well as the associated costs, during a Meridian public-service commission town hall. They also wondered what the next steps would be. Although the Public Service Commission stated that it will use its authority to protect ratepayers, they cannot express their views on the merits or the design of the project. Cecil Brown, a Democrat representing the Central District, stated at the town hall that “(the plant’s legality] is not before the Commission.” “Our job is make sure that if the company files rate cases with us… (ratepayers have access to power on an efficient and reliable basis and at a reasonable price.” This was a question of prudence Former Gov. Haley Barbour, who represented Mississippi Power’s parent company Southern Co. through her lobbying firm, vigorously supported the project which broke ground in 2010 and began construction. The state law allows the Public Service Commission to examine whether pre-construction, construction and operating costs related to generating facilities were prudently incurred. It can do this as many times as every quarter. The plant, which runs on natural gas, was expected to be fully operational by May 2014. Mississippi Power Co. failed to meet previously set deadlines due in part to bad weather, labor shortages and incorrect time and materials estimates. Mississippi Today was informed by Jeff Shepard, a spokesperson for Mississippi Power. He stated that the project was 99 per cent complete on Sept. 16. Two of the plant’s gasifiers are now complete, which is a device that encourages a chemical reaction that transforms a solid into gas. This creates lignite synthesis gas. Shepard stated via email that the next step is to produce first electricity. “… We expect that we will reach this milestone by the end (September) The remaining facility is still to be in service by October 31.” A few weeks later, the utility announced a further delay of another month and an additional $33million to the price tag. Robert Wise is a Jackson utility attorney who has been following the struggles of the plant for many years. He said that he doesn’t find it surprising that there have been more delays in the past. Wise stated that the pattern has been the same: more delay, more expense and more risk to ratepayers. The attorney said the project can’t reach an end date until there has been sufficient testing, and, per a former project manager-turned-whistleblower Brett Wingo, that could be a prolonged period. Wise stated that he doesn’t know how long it might take and if Mississippi Power knows. Mississippi Today was recently invited to a media tour at the plant. A van ride was taken around the plant’s perimeter and a bus ride took place within the adjacent lignite coal mine. Officials stated that reporters were not permitted to leave the van during the tour. This was done to ensure safety and meet construction deadlines. Reporters were not allowed to take smartphone videos. The plant will convert lignite to a gas that can be used to generate electricity and extract carbon dioxide, among other pollutants. The project, which promises to be the first in its type and size to run commercially in the U.S., has attracted national attention since its inception. The utility plans to export the technology of the plant to other countries. The plant will not only produce electricity for Mississippi Power customers, but it will also reduce carbon emissions by using carbon dioxide to transport carbon dioxide through a nearby pipeline. Oil companies can then purchase the gas to inject into the fallow oil fields, bringing valuable crude oil to the surface. Kemper could also be one of the most expensive power plants ever constructed. The total project cost now stands at $6.9Billion, which is more than twice the original estimate. The original estimate for the plant and its nearby lignite coal mining facility was $2.9 billion. Mississippi Power claims that the Mississippi Public Service Commission, in late 2000s, determined that Mississippi needed a new power plant. This was based on the state’s population growth and the age of existing facilities. It also noted the need for fuel price stability. According to the utility, the plant’s technology will provide customers with reliable power in case of an emergency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (last updated May 2016), Mississippi uses more energy than it produces. Due to its long and hot summers, Mississippi’s per-capita energy consumption is in the top third among all states. Once it generates electricity from lignite, the plant will produce 582 megawatts. This would power 190,000. Shepard stated that the commission approved Kemper’s project due to its potential for long-term fuel diversification and the cost of operating the plant while it runs on lignite. A new baseload facility that is stable in fuel supply (unlike solar and wind facilities which fluctuate in their supply) requires an investment. Shepard stated that the facility, which will be powered by lignite, will provide protection for customers for 40-50 years against price fluctuations in commodities such as coal and natural gas. The Kemper Rollercoaster. Customers will benefit from the addition of a third fuel mix. Public can also ask questions to the commission about the Kemper project’s cost and utility via the “discovery docket” or electronic file available on the commission’s site. The commission states that only Mississippi Power customers can submit information requests. They may also receive answers through the docket. The docket was launched in October and will remain open for approximately six months. During the hearings, the commission will consider its responses to these questions. The commission plans to also post previously sealed records. The Mississippi Power ratepayers have a limit of $2.88 billion on the amount they can pay for the plant. The commission must approve any increase above that. The power company has also seen rate increases in the 23 counties that cover the Gulf Coast to Meridian. It can sometimes seem like an electric cost rollercoaster. Mississippi Power reports that the Kemper facility saw the first rate hike in April 2013. These rate increases increased the base rates of customers by 15%. Kemper’s total rate increases increased by an additional 3 percentage points in January 2014. The commission ordered Mississippi Power to cancel the rate increases for a month in the summer 2015. After a month of rate increases, the commission ordered Mississippi Power to halt them. The rates were then restored at 18 percent for the remainder of 2015. The rate increase was restored to 15% by the Mississippi Supreme Court in a permanent ruling that took effect January 2016. When it found that some rate increases in April 2013 and July 2015. to cover costs associated with Kemper County plants were illegal, the Supreme Court ordered the utility to refund its customers. Mississippi Power was sued for delays and additional costs. A U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation also focused on the plant’s schedule and cost. One of these lawsuits included a six year battle with the Sierra Club. The multi-million-dollar settlement was reached by the Mississippi Power and environmental advocacy group in 2014. The settlement saw Mississippi Power convert to natural gas and retire several coal-fired power plants. The settlement also created a $15 million fund that will help low-income rate Mississippi Power payers make their homes more efficient. According to the Biloxi Sun Herald, John Carlton Dean of Gulfport, Island View Casino Resort and Biloxi Freezing & Process Inc. filed a lawsuit against Mississippi Power to recover all costs incurred for the plant. Treetop Midstream Services, an oil company based in Mississippi, filed a lawsuit against Mississippi Power Co., Southern Company, and others over the costs Treetop incurred to build a $100 million pipeline. Treetop alleges fraudulent misrepresentation and concealment as well as civil conspiracy and breaching contract by the power corporations in the lawsuit. “We did everything that we were supposed to. It was based on a series lies. The truth was not revealed to us. In June, Treetop’s attorney George W. Finkbohner III told Mississippi Today that they had cancelled the contract after we had invested the entire amount and waited for many years. In May, the Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into the increasing costs of Kemper’s project. It examined the estimated cost of the project and the date when service might begin. According to the Associated Press, the Southern Co. branch stated in its filing that the inquiry is primarily focused on “periods after 2010” and accounting matters, disclosure control and procedures. It also focuses on internal controls over financial reporting related to Kemper. Shepard stated that while we can’t predict the outcome of the investigation, as we have disclosed in our disclosures, the investigation will not have a material effect on the financial statements of Mississippi Power or Southern Company. “While we cannot predict the ultimate outcome, as we have stated in our disclosures on this matter, we do not expect the investigation to have a material impact on the financial statements of either Southern Company or Mississippi Power,” Shepard said in a statement at the time.