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SMEPA eyeing IGCCC plant

GULFPORT — South Mississippi Electric Power Association (SMEPA) has signed a letter of intent to explore the acquisition of an interest in Mississippi Power’s proposed Kemper County Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Project.

The companies are negotiating a combination of a joint ownership arrangement and a purchase power agreement, which would provide SMEPA with up to 20 percent of the capacity and associated energy output from the plant.

Mississippi Power has proposed building a state-of-the-art electric power plant in Kemper County that would capture 65 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. The plant would use Mississippi lignite to fuel the technology.

“We are continually looking for additional generating capacity to meet the growing demand for electricity for our member distribution cooperatives and their consumers,” said Jim Compton, general manager and CEO of SMEPA. “As we look to a future with volatile fuel prices and new environmental regulations, it is clear to us that Mississippi Power’s proposed Kemper County IGCC project, using low-cost Mississippi lignite, is a viable alternative to help meet our long-term generation resource needs. Any option that combines a stable, low-cost fuel source with the environmentally-friendly aspects of this project is worth pursuing further.”

“South Mississippi Electric is one of our largest customers and like us, is responsible for providing affordable, reliable electric service to thousands of its members in our state,” said Anthony Topazi, president and CEO of Mississippi Power. “We welcome the opportunity to further our partnership through the value that our proposed Kemper County IGCC Project provides in meeting our collective needs.”

Pending Mississippi Public Service Commission approval, construction would begin in 2010. The proposed generation station is a 582-megawatt power plant that would begin commercial operation in 2014. SMEPA will also need regulatory approval from the Rural Utilities Service.

Mississippi Power’s investment will be approximately $2.2 billion. Approximately 260 permanent jobs, plus 1,000 jobs during peak construction, would be created.

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