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Bentz: MBJ’s Kemper coverage inaccurate

The Mississippi Public Service Commission held its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday morning, and it was more noteworthy for what happened afterward than what happened during it.

The good news: Southern District Commissioner Leonard Bentz finally spoke with a reporter about Mississippi Power’s lignite coal-fired generation plant in Kemper County. The bad news: It was a brief conversation.

“Y’all haven’t printed one thing that’s accurate,” Bentz said, referring to the Mississippi Business Journal’s coverage of Kemper from the PSC’s 2010 approval of the $2.8 billion plant to the Mississippi Supreme Court’s recent ruling that the Commission’s decision to grant a certificate of public necessity and convenience was not based on “substantial evidence presented.”

Bentz wouldn’t say what he felt was inaccurate. “Just quote that,” he said, walking away and pointing his finger at a reporter. “Quote that.”

Bentz joined Central District Commissioner Lynn Posey in 2010 in granting the certificate for the Kemper plant. Northern District Transportation Commissioner Brandon Presley dissented.

The Mississippi Chapter of the Sierra Club challenged the project in Harrison County Chancery Court, which ruled in favor of MPC. After the Sierra Club appealed, the state’s high court ruled 9-0 that the PSC would have to revisit the facts that led to it approving the project. Last Friday, the PSC voted — with the same split – in a 45-second hearing to temporarily authorize MPC to continue construction on the project.

Posey has not spoken with the media since the court’s decision, either.

Presley has said repeatedly that while he’s not against the use of coal to generate energy, he would rather MPC pay for the project itself, rather than passing the cost through to its ratepayers via increased power bills.

An MPC spokesperson said after last week’s hearing that the company has spent $1.1 billion on the project, most of that paying for the installation of underground utilities.

  1. Thomas Baldwin
    April 4th, 2012 at 20:01 | #1

    This is an excellent, if brief, report. Clay should continue to get Bentz and Posey on the record even if all they do is point their finger and tell you to “quote them”!

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