Sierra Club applauds legislative efforts on Kemper County project

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

JACKSON, MS - As the movement against the Kemper County coal plant continues to grow, Mississippi State Representative Jeff Guice (R-Ocean Springs) and Senator Albert Butler (D-Port Gibson) have introduced bills to repeal last year’s legislation authorizing Mississippi Power Company to issue bonds and force customers to pay for them. The law enabled Mississippi Power to issue up to $1 billion in bonds to offset the skyrocketing cost overruns at the Kemper County coal plant, an experimental facility that is currently months behind schedule and more than double its original cost estimates.

“One year after the Legislature was misled by Mississippi Power on the true costs of the Kemper boondoggle, the chickens have come home to roost,” said Louie Miller, state director of the Mississippi Sierra Club. “Since last year, Mississippi Power has taken us deeper down the rabbit hole, with the Kemper plant’s price tag now exceeding $5 billion dollars, making Kemper the most expensive coal-fired power plant ever built in the United States on a per kilowatt basis. Hard working Mississippi families should not have to pay for the bad business decisions of Mississippi Power.”

The 2013 legislation was filed just days after the Mississippi Public Service Commission announced a settlement agreement with Mississippi Power to resolve disputed rate increases to cover the runaway costs of the plant. The Mississippi State Legislature approved the legislation, and Governor Phil Bryant then signed it into law. The new law gave Mississippi Power the authority to issue up to $1 billion in bonds to cover cost overruns at the Kemper plant, to be financed through a separate charge on customers’ monthly electric bills.

“Last year’s precedent setting law gave the company the ability to charge the customer  an additional $1 billion dollars to pay for this plant, outside of the normal Public Service Commission rate increase process. Both Mississippi Power and the MPSC knew there would be a backlash if they tried to pass the true cost of the Kemper plant on to customers through rate hikes, so they found a back door option,” added Miller. “I urge state lawmakers to vote to repeal the bond bill and protect families and businesses against Mississippi Power’s bad business decision.”

The Mississippi Sierra Club has opposed the Kemper County Coal Plant since it was first proposed in 2009. For more information, please visit the Mississippi Sierra Club Chapter website or to view past press releases, click here.

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