Sierra Club: Poll shows customer opposition to rate hikes via Kemper coal plant
The Sierra Club was supposed to release last Thursday the results of a poll meant to gauge Mississippi Power Co. ratepayers’ attitudes toward the Kemper County coal plant.
The environmental group delayed the results because of a hearing in which the Mississippi Public Service Commission reached a rate case settlement with the utility.
The delay ended Wednesday morning. The poll, conducted by Fondren Strategies, surveyed by landline and mobile telephone 400 respondents that a press release says were certified to be Mississippi Power customers.
The results say 65 percent of those polled said the possibility of their electricity rates going up approximately 33 percent once the plant is finished erodes their support of the project. About 75 percent of respondents say cost overruns should be paid by utility shareholders.
The poll’s margin for error is 4.9 percent.
Mississippi Power has already filed to recover $172 million in financing costs associated with the project. The filing came one day after last week’s settlement, which lowered the maximum cost recoverable via PSC ratemaking proceedings from $2.88 billion to $2.4 billion.
If the PSC grants the $172 million recovery request, Mississippi Power says rates will go up an average of 21 percent, starting in April and lasting through 2013, for customers who use an average of 1,000 kWh per month.
The project’s overall rate impact, the company said on an analyst call Friday, will hover around 25 percent.
The Sierra Club has opposed the plant since its inception in 2009, calling it an expensive and unnecessary environmental hazard. The club has called for the plant to be converted to a natural gas-fired facility, which it says is cleaner than the lignite coal the plant will eventually use.
The project is on time for a May 2014 completion, Mississippi Power said recently.
The Sierra Club’s entire poll can be seen here.