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No settlement in sight for Kemper plant as second deadline passes

Kemper County energy facility is operating only on natural gas since the Public Service Commission asked Mississippi Power to abandon its plans to operate on lignite coal. The company wrote off $6 billion in costs but has not been able to come to an agreement on whether rates should be lowered.
Kemper County energy facility is operating only on natural gas since the Public Service Commission asked Mississippi Power to abandon its plans to operate on lignite coal. The company wrote off $6 billion in costs but has not been able to come to an agreement on whether rates should be lowered. Sun Herald File

Mississippi Public Service Commission meets Tuesday and is expected to go into executive session to discuss what happens next with the Kemper County energy facility.

The PSC said late Friday that a settlement between Mississippi Power and the other parties hadn’t been reached.

The original deadline for a settlement was Aug. 21 and the PSC extended it to Sept. 8 when the company and other parties couldn’t reach a compromise. Mississippi Power agreed to write off about $6 billion in construction of the Kemper energy facility and operate the plant on natural gas, abandoning plans to use the huge reserves of lignite coal to power the facility.

The sticking point comes down to rates. The PSC directed Mississippi Power not to increase rates for customers to cover Kemper costs and to reduce rates if possible. Mississippi Power said in its settlement that it would keep rates the same. But the Public Utilities Staff, which is separate from the Public Service Commission and works through the governor’s office, submitted an informal offer objecting to millions in costs from Mississippi Power and asking that rates be cut.

Now it will be up to the PSC to decide how the stalemate will be settled.

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