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Kemper plant employee gag order continued

 

Jack Weatherly

A Jefferson County, Ala. judge on Friday extended for another month a gag order preventing  a key manager at Mississippi Power Co.’s Kemper County coal-fired power plant from making public statements about the facility.

The parent of Mississippi Power Co., Atlanta-based Southern Co., contends that the information would do great harm to the company.

The case is the latest development in the oft-delayed project that would turn lignite, a low-energy coal, into gas to be burned by the power plant that has seen its original budgeted cost increase to $6.2 billion from $2.8 billion.

On Feb.13, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered Mississippi Power to refund more than $200 million in a rate increase granted by the state Public Service Commission to pay for the facility.

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Elisabeth French granted the continuance of a temporary restraining order she issued on Feb. 19, when another hearing will be held March 26 at 2:15 p.m., according to John D. Saxon, a Birmingham lawyer who had represented Wingo till Feb. 19.

The Associated Press reported that Wingo said Thursday that while Saxon “negotiated certain terms, he rejected them and fired his attorney.”

Efforts to obtain a copy of the continuance order from the Alabama court system’s online site were unsuccessful, but Saxon confirmed that it was handed down, though he declined to provide a copy of it.

A phone call and email to William King, a Birmingham lawyer representing the Southern Co. were not returned immediately on Friday.

Wingo and the Southern Co. have discussed an out-of-court settlement, according to a blog by Eddie Curran, a former reporter for the Mobile Press-Register. He posted this excerpt from the Feb. 19 filing:

“Mr. Wingo and all those acting in concert with him are hearby enjoined from disclosing to anyone, other than to counsel retained by Mr. Wingo . . . the terms and existence of any settlement that he has been offered by or has otherwise accepted from [Southern].”

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About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.

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