Business

Mississippi Power customers will see charge vanish

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration infrared satellite images shows the outer bands of Hurricane Katrina, well ashore on the northern Gulf coast and the center of the storm about 165 miles, south-southeast of New Orleans at 8:15 p.m., on Aug. 28, 2005.
A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration infrared satellite images shows the outer bands of Hurricane Katrina, well ashore on the northern Gulf coast and the center of the storm about 165 miles, south-southeast of New Orleans at 8:15 p.m., on Aug. 28, 2005. Associated Press File

Mississippi Power Co. customers will soon get a break on their bills.

The Public Service Commission voted Tuesday to remove the $3.45-per-month Hurricane Katrina Systems Restoration Charge. That charge had been used to pay off $121 million in bonds that was used to help repair about $300 million in damage to the electrical infrastructure in Mississippi. The rest of the repair work was paid for with a federal Community Development Block Grant.

The PSC, in a news release, said Mississippi Treasurer Lynn Fitch reported that debt will be paid off by the end of January.

“What could have been a sizeable electric bill hike for already devastated customers was made manageable by unparalleled cooperation between government agencies like the PSC and Mississippi Power,” PSC Chairman Brandon Presley said. “The fruits of that effort are seen today as, just over a decade later, Mississippi Power has paid its Katrina debt in full and ratepayers can shed one more reminder of that terrible storm.”

Mississippi Power said the debt was retired two years early.

“These bonds provided Mississippi Power with access to lower-cost capital to rebuild our power and delivery system and replenish our storm damage fund, so we could be prepared for future storms,” said Mississippi Power President and CEO Anthony Wilson in a release from the company. “And they helped protect our customers from excessive increases in their electric bills.”

The company said the storm knocked out all but three of its power lines and damaged 65 percent of its distribution facilities. It replaced 9,000 poles, 2,300 transformers, 1,100 miles of power line and repaired Gulfport’s Plant Watson after the storm.

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