The Mississippi Public Service Commission voted last week to give Mississippi Power Company an extension on its deadline to accept the Commission’s conditions for the proposed $2.4 billion Kemper County clean coal plant.
Public Service Commissioners Leonard Bentz, Lynn Posey and Brandon Presley voted unanimously to extend the deadline to May 26. The Commission’s April 29 order conditionally approved the plant and gave MPC the deadline of May 19 to comply with conditions including a $2.4 billion price cap and a rejection of the company’s plan to use CWIP. CWIP, or Construction Work in Progress in rate base, is the practice of charging customers for plant financing costs before the plant becomes operational and provides electricity.
Chairman Presley, who was the single no vote to the April 29 order, said today’s decision would allow time for more deliberation. All three commissioners agreed that MPC’s original proposal was too risky for ratepayers.
An MPC spokesperson said the company was encouraged by the decision.
On Monday (May 10) MPC asked the Commission for a rehearing and a new decision, removing the financial constraints, no later than May 28. MPC said in its filing that “every day of delay” in the project threatens federal and state support, drives up project cost estimates and strains vendor relationships.
MPC said that since its February hearings before the Commission, project risk has been lowered: On May 7 MPC was awarded an additional $279 million in federal tax credits.
MPC said that a CWIP allowance is “essential” to obtain financing. CWIP will help the company keep a good credit rating and thus have access to capital. A good credit rating would make interest rates lower and save rate payers an estimated $500 million dollars over the life of the plant.
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