Sierra Club Challenge to Kemper Plant to Move Forward

Harrison County Chancery Court Issues Disappointing Decision, Sierra Club Will Press On

JACKSON, MS–(ENEWSPF)–December 18, 2012. The Sierra Club will continue to challenge the Mississippi Public Service Commission’s unlawful approval of the multi-billion dollar Kemper County Coal Plant project after a disappointing ruling from the Harrison County Chancery Court. The Chancery Court issued a ruling late on the afternoon of Monday, December 17, declining to reverse the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) approval of the experimental and controversial coal project. Sierra Club will appeal the ruling.

“We respectfully disagree with Chancellor Persons’ decision today,” said Louie Miller, State Director of the Mississippi Sierra Club. “We know that the PSC wrongly approved this dirty, expensive, and unnecessary project, and the economic wellbeing of thousands of families on the coast hangs in the balance. The Kemper plant was a bad deal when it was first proposed, but in the last few months we’ve seen huge cost overruns and delays, which will make this project even more unaffordable for coastal Mississippi Power customers. The PSC has made the wrong decision twice, and we’ll keep fighting to protect those customers.”

Sierra Club challenged the Public Service Commission’s initial approval of Mississippi Power’s proposed Kemper facility, and in March 2012, the Mississippi Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision supporting Sierra Club’s challenge, ultimately sending the Kemper project back to the Public Service Commission for reconsideration with additional information. Following the Supreme Court order, the Public Service Commission acted swiftly and in a brazen manner to protect the interests of Mississippi Power at the expense of its captive customer base in Southern Mississippi. Commissioners Lynn Posey and Leonard Bentz voted to re-authorize the Kemper plant in a meeting lasting less than one minute.

Since the PSC voted to reauthorize the plant, a series of independent reports has revealed that Mississippi Power has struggled with construction and engineering problems, leading to massive cost overruns and delays. Recent estimates have shown that capital costs for the project alone could reach $3 billion, a significantly higher figure than that authorized by the Public Service Commission. The Mississippi Business Journal projected that the Kemper plant would lead to rate increases of at least 45% for residential ratepayers; if the Kemper project remains over budget, ratepayers may be forced to pay even more.

“Mississippi Power can no longer credibly claim that the Kemper plant is in good shape,” added Miller. “They need to stop putting lipstick on this pig and come clean about the true state of the plant’s finances and construction, and the Public Service Commission needs to step in and pull the plug before customers are made to foot the bill for Mississippi Power’s $3 billion mistake.”