This is the only office Thomas has ever run for and ever will. He filed the lawsuit against the Kemper power plant with his own money, “one man, one meter,” to reverse the PSC outrageous rate hike of $275 million dollars. Just the first part of this rate hike is being returned to the ratepayers and it amounts to approximately $1,000 per household. Many industries and businesses I know received well over $150,000. That should be a clue to just how much money will be sucked from ratepayers by this colossal boondoggle.
If Mississippi Power, through the PSC, is successful in making Mississippi ratepayers pay for the whole $6 billion Kemper plant, the annual cost will be far more than $1,000 per household per year.
These high electricity rates will cause residents and businesses to leave and will discourage new ones from coming to our state. It will be an economic disaster.
The problem goes beyond the PSC, where I hope we can prevail. The State Republican Leadership seems dug in to the proposition that the ratepayers should pay the six billion dollar cost of the Kemper Plant. If the leadership stays dug in, the members of the legislature will follow because they are dependent on the leadership for their own positions, not the voters that elected them. This must not happen.
Atlanta-based Southern Company, corporate parent of Mississippi Power Company, proposed this boondoggle. Southern originally estimated its cost at one billion dollars. Now it’s a six billion and growing. Outrageously, the higher it goes, the more Southern Company will benefit because state law gives them a guaranteed rate of return on “prudently” invested assets. There was nothing prudent about Kemper and the PSC should deny prudency, getting ratepayers off the hook. That’s why the election of Tom Blanton to the Public Service Commission is crucial.
If Southern gets its customary eight percent equity plus five percent interest return on the entire Kemper cost, billions upon billions will leave Mississippi for Atlanta. That’s over $750 million a year, a seventh of Mississippi’s general fund budget. The payments will continue for 40 years, keeping Mississippi down for decades. It makes my heart sink to think about it.
Our economy cannot stand such a shock, but our political leadership seems committed to the proposition that we will have to do so. Thomas Blanton has paid for and protected us so far at the Mississippi Supreme Court. He needs to be elected and perhaps we can prevail in changing our leaderships’ minds or defeating them on Kemper.
If Southern Company really believes in their technology, let them own the plant they are trying to politically force Mississippi to buy. If the Plant works, let us buy gas from them at market rates.
» Clarke Reed is a businessman and investor from Greenville, who was from 1966 to 1976 the state chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party. Reed was instrumental in the nomination of U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., at the 1976 Republican National Convention held in Kansas City, Missouri.