PSC discusses Kemper Power
Last week, Public Service Commissioner Sam Britton answered questions about events surrounding the Kemper County Power Generation Facility.
The future implications of the facility remain a concern for many across the state and after a recent economic viability analysis and the continued flow of information stemming from the Commission-ordered discovery docket, Britton provided his insight on the latest developments.
When asked about the current status of construction, Britton voiced concern that there are still many questions that must be answered but remains committed to protecting ratepayers from unnecessary costs.
“The main question we will be asking is ‘Has Kemper been built and delivered as promised?’ ” Britton said. “And to this point, Kemper has not been built and delivered as promised.” Britton explained other questions will examine management decisions and provided examples.
1. Was it prudent to continue construction in the face of rising costs and schedule delays?
2. Was it prudent to begin construction with ten percent front-end engineering on a “first-of-its-kind”facility?
3. Was it prudent to continue considering lower gas prices and increased operation cost? These are the types of questions we will ask.
4. Will Kemper produce enough syngas using lignite coal to operate Kemper at full capacity?
5. Is Kemper only useful using natural gas?
Britton also addressed the role of Southern Company in the Kemper process. Southern Company is the parent company to Mississippi Power Company. It is also the parent company of Southern Company Services, the entity that is contracted with Mississippi Power to build the Kemper facility.
“Southern Company has a responsibility in this process of delivering Kemper as promised,” Britton said. “Up to this point Southern Company has assumed responsibility and paid $2.8 billion in cost overruns related to Kemper and has continued to voice their financial support of Mississippi Power.
What we want is affordable, reliable power. And if Kemper is not delivered as promised, or a viable alternative presented, Southern Company may have to decide whether it wants to pay another $2.8 billion or more.’’
In December 2015, the Public Service Commission established a deadline of June 3, 2017 for Mississippi Power to file a rate case for the Kemper facility. It will be at that time the Public Service Commissioners will make a decision on prudency and used and usefulness of Kemper.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission regulates telecommunications, electric, gas, water and sewer utilities. The agency is charged with assuring that rates and charges for services are just and reasonable, that the service rendered is reasonably adequate, and that any facilities constructed or acquired are required for the convenience and necessity of the public. The agency also exercises safety jurisdiction over gas pipelines and has area jurisdiction over all public utilities.