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Miss. Power appeals rate increase denial to Miss. Supreme Court

A few hours after another overrun for its Kemper County coal plant was revealed, Mississippi Power Co. said Monday it was appealing the Public Service Commission’s decision not to act on rate increase requests until the litigation surrounding the facility is finished.

The company appealed the PSC’s order to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

On June 22, commissioners voted 3-0 to deny a 13 percent rate increase the company wanted to employ to help pay for the Kemper plant. The increase would have generated about $58 million. As part of the denial, commissioners said they would not rule on any rate increase requests until the state’s high court had its say on the Sierra Club’s latest legal challenge to the facility. The environmental advocacy organization has opposed the plant from the jump, calling it expensive and unnecessary.

Mississippi Power’s appeal includes a motion for interim rate relief, according to a company release. Company officials have said the PSC’s denial could potentially preclude the recovery of construction costs until after the facility is completed, due to a possibly lengthy litigation timeline.

“The collection of interest costs for the plant during construction will accomplish two important objectives,” Moses Feagin, vice president and chief financial officer, said in the release. “One, to lower the overall cost of the plant for our customers, and two, to reduce the potential rate shock they would have otherwise experienced.”

Last week, Fitch Ratings downgraded MPC’s credit rating from “A” to “A-.” The ratings agency also revised the company’s rating outlook from “stable” to “negative.”

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