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Mississippi Power again revises Kemper plant timeline

Mississippi Power said last month it expected to have the Kemper County energy facility operational on lignite coal by mid-March, but on Thursday the company said it will miss the deadline.
Mississippi Power said last month it expected to have the Kemper County energy facility operational on lignite coal by mid-March, but on Thursday the company said it will miss the deadline. Courtesy of Mississippi Power

Mississippi Power Co. said Thursday it will miss its mid-March estimate to get the $7 billion Kemper County energy plant operating on lignite coal.

On March 9, tube leaks developed in a syngas cooler for one of the gasifiers, the company said in an 8-K report filed Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission and in its January report to the state Public Service Commission, also filed Thursday. The two gasifiers convert soft lignite coal into synthetic gas at high pressure and temperature. The gas is burned in turbines to generate electricity.

The leaking gasifier was taken out of service for repairs, the company said. Mississippi Power has completed work on the other gasifier, and is resuming production of electricity.

Mississippi Power spokesman Jeff Shepard said the company expects to file an updated schedule and cost estimate by early April.

He said the timeline extension beyond March 15 comes at a cost of about $25 million to $35 million a month.

Last month, Mississippi Power said it had made great progress and expected to have the plant operational on lignite by mid-March.

The company also released a report that shows natural gas prices were lower than the company anticipated when it started construction of the plant, and that the expected costs of running the plant on lignite are now higher.

Though there was no deadline to get the plant operating on lignite, Mississippi Power has a deadline from the PSC of June 3 to file a rate case to try to recoup some of the costs, and Sam Britton, Public Service commissioner for the southern area of the state, said that is a firm deadline.

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