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Monitors: November 2014 most likely start date for Kemper plant

In its latest report, the independent monitors hired by the Mississippi Public Service Commission’s Public Utilities Staff say the most likely date Mississippi Power Co.’s Kemper County coal plant will start commercial operation is November 2014.

That’s six months later than MPC had originally said the plant would start producing electricity.

In its analysis, Burns and Roe Engineering Inc. estimated there was an 80 percent chance the plant would begin operation on or before Dec. 20, 2014; a 50 percent chance it starts on or before Nov. 29, 2014; and a 20 percent chance the same happens by Nov. 6, 2014.

That’s the only new revelation made in the report, filed with the PUS Nov. 26. Monitors said there was a 90 percent chance the plant’s final cost would be between $3 billion and $3.15 billion, which has been their estimate for several months. Mississippi Power said last month it can complete the plant for $2.88 billion, which is the hard cost cap commissioners imposed on the project. The company also said in October that the target date for commercial operation to start was still May 2014.

Mississippi Power spokesman Jeff Shepard reiterated the cost and timeline Wednesday in an email to the Mississippi Business Journal. Shepard noted that monitors hired by the PSC said in their latest report that there is a 72 percent chance the project’s cost will come in at or under $2.88 billion.

“As the project nears completion, the company will continue to assess both costs and schedule and will continue to submit monthly reports to the Commission and Public Utilities Staff reflecting any adjustments as warranted,” Shepard wrote.

The Kemper facility is still the subject of litigation between Mississippi Power and the Sierra Club, which opposes the project. A Harrison County chancery judge has yet to rule on the environmental group’s latest challenge to the plant, though a decision is expected by the end of 2012 or in early 2013. Whoever the chancellor rules against will almost certainly appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Commissioners ruled over the summer that they would not entertain any rate increase requests related to the project until the state’s high court had its say on the matter. That decision came after Mississippi Power had asked for a 13 percent rate increase that would have generated about $58 million.


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