Kemper plant headed back to court; gasifier installed

KEMPER COUNTY — Opponents will return to court tomorrow seeking to again invalidate state regulators’ decision to allow Mississippi Power Co. to build a $2.8 billion power plant in Kemper County.

The Sierra Club and other opponents of the plant want Harrison County Chancellor Jim Persons to rule that the new permission granted by the Mississippi Public Service Commission in April was illegal.

Opponents say the PSC should have held new hearings after the state Supreme Court rejected the original certificate in March. The high court ruled that the commission hadn’t adequately laid out its reasons for raising the cost cap on the plant from $2.4 billion to $2.88 billion in 2010.

Since the PSC voted 2-1 to grant the new permission, Mississippi Power has announced cost overruns of more than $400 million.

In a separate item, Mississippi Power Company has installed a section of its Kemper County power plant’s gasifier, which will be used to convert the plant’s affordable fuel source, lignite, into a synthesis gas to generate electricity.

Mississippi Power officials say an abundance of lignite coal located adjacent to the plant site will be gasified to create clean, reliable and affordable energy for customers for the next 40 years.

Emission controls are built into the coal gasification process. And, officials say the project will capture at least 65 percent of the carbon dioxide produced, with resulting emissions comparable to a similarly sized natural gas plant.

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