Mississippi Allows MS Power Co to Continue Building Coal Plant

 Mississippi PSC Allows Southern Co (MS Power) to Continue Building Coal Plant

(Important reports from Reuters today, Friday, March 30, 2012 on MS PSC Hearing)

Compiled by Tom Baldwin,  Biloxi, MS on March 30, 2012

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/30/idUSL2E8ETCUG20120330

Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:02pm EDT

* Commission says delaying plant not in public interest

* Utility has spent more than $1.1 billion so far

* Opponents argued there abundant natural gas

March 30 (Reuters) – Mississippi utility regulators on Friday issued a temporary certificate to allow a unit of Southern Co to continue building an $2.8 billion coal-gasification power plant in the state despite a court ruling that overturned the existing certificate issued in 2010.

With only two days meeting notice and no discussion, the Mississippi Public Service Commission voted 2-1 to allow Southern Co’s smallest utility, Mississippi Power, to keep building the 582-megawatt integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) power plant in Kemper County, according to the commission order obtained by Reuters.

The order, supported by commissioner chairman Leonard Bentz and commissioner Lynn Posey, stated that the halting the project would lead to “unnecessary costs” that would cause substantial injury to the utility and its customers.

“The commission finds that avoiding unnecessary costs is in the public interest; and that allowing the Kemper Project to proceed at this stage serves the public interest,” the order states.

Commissioner Brandon Presley who has consistently opposed the Kemper project for its high price tag and untried technology called the action to issue a temporary certificate “squarely contrary to state law.”

In a dissenting opinion, Presley said the order “totally misinterprets” the state statute “to Mississippi Power’s advantage and to the detriment of MPC’s customers.”

“It’s an absolute bailout of Mississippi Power,” said Louie Miller, director of the Sierra Club in Mississippi which successfully challenged the Kemper certificate in state court.

Miller suggested that Mississippi Power customers would be better served if the plant were converted to run natural gas rather than lignite as gas prices have fallen dramatically since Kemper County was proposed several years ago.

According to state filings, Mississippi Power has spent more than $1.1 billion on the Kemper County IGCC plant so far. It is expected to begin producing power in 2014. The utility has less than 200,000 customers.

The Kemper certificate, issued by the PSC in May 2010, was thrown into doubt earlier this month when the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that the commission failed to show evidence that the plant would benefit the utility’s customers as required by state law. The court sent the case back to the PSC.

Mississippi Power did not immediately respond to a call for comment on Friday.

Kemper opponents, including independent power producers, said Mississippi Power could only justify customer savings by using a long-term, high-priced gas scenario that did not take into account the abundant supply of gas from shale-rock formations.

IGCC technology heats coal to convert it into a synthesis gas that is processed to remove numerous pollutants before being sent to a traditional combined-cycle power plant to produce electricity.

Kemper was designed to showcase a gasification technology developed by Southern Co to burn Mississippi lignite and had support from state economic development groups and then-Governor Haley Barbour.

Click here to obtain a link to Brandon Presley’s dissent to the majority opinion.  http://www.psc.state.ms.us/commissioners/northern/press%20releases/2012/Presley%20Issues%20Statement%20On%20Kemper%20Vote%20Today%2003-30-2012.pdf 

_________________________________________________________

Reuter’s Notes received via email on Friday, March 30 by Louie Miller, MS Director, Sierra Club

16:39 30Mar12 RTRS-UPDATE 1-Mississippi allows Southern Co to keep building $2.8 bln coal plant

    * Utility says delay could cost $250 mln-$500 mln

   * Sierra Club appeals commission order late Friday

   * Dissenting commissioner says action contrary to state law

(Adds court appeal, comment)

   By Eileen O’Grady 

   March 30 (Reuters) – Mississippi utility regulators on Friday voted to allow a unit of Southern Co <SO.N> to continue building an $2.8 billion coal-gasification power plant in the state despite a court ruling that overturned the existing certificate issued two years ago.   

   With only two days meeting notice and no discussion, the Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) voted 2-1 to issue a temporary certificate so that Southern Co’s smallest utility, Mississippi Power, can keep building the 582-megawatt integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) power plant in Kemper County, according to the commission order.  

   The Sierra Club, which successfully challenged the Kemper IGCC project, immediately filed an appeal at the Mississippi Supreme Court to block the certificate.  

    The PSC order, supported by commissioner chairman Leonard Bentz and commissioner Lynn Posey, stated that the halting the project would lead to “unnecessary costs” that would cause substantial injury to the utility and its customers.    

    According to a state filing, Mississippi Power said interrupting construction at the Kemper site could cost between $250 million and $500 million. 

   ”Any delays to this project would mean significant costs to our customers,” said Jeff Shepard, Mississippi Power spokesman in a release. “Today’s ruling means we can continue building a sound energy future for our customers.” 

    The Kemper certificate, issued by the PSC in May 2010, was thrown into doubt earlier this month when the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that the commission failed to show evidence that the plant would benefit the utility’s customers as required by state law. The court sent the case back to the PSC. [ID:nL2E8EGETM]    

   Commissioner Brandon Presley who has consistently opposed the Kemper project for its high price tag and untried technology called Friday’s action to issue a temporary certificate “squarely contrary to state law.”    

    In his dissent, Presley said the order “totally misinterprets” the state statute “to Mississippi Power’s advantage and to the detriment of MPC’s customers.”  

   ”There is no way allowing construction to continue at Kemper is a temporary act,” Presley told Reuters. “Nobody with any sense would argue that. It’s not what the law says.”  

   Bentz who represents most Mississippi Power customers in the southeast corner of the state, declined to comment through a spokeswoman while Posey, who represents Kemper County in central Mississippi, could not be reached late Friday. 

   ”It’s an absolute bailout of Mississippi Power,” said Louie Miller, director of the Sierra Club in Mississippi.  

   In its appeal filed after Friday’s meeting, the Sierra Club asked the Supreme Court to rule that “Mississippi Power is not exempt from the law, and the Public Service Commission does not have the authority to bypass state law, according to a statement.   

   Miller suggested that Mississippi Power customers would be better served if Mississippi Power converted the plant to run natural gas rather than lignite as gas prices have fallen dramatically since Kemper County was proposed several years ago. 

   According to state filings, Mississippi Power has spent more than $1.1 billion on the Kemper County IGCC plant and has committed to contracts valued at $1.5 billion. It is expected to begin producing power in 2014. The utility has less than 200,000 customers.   

   Kemper opponents, including independent power producers, said Mississippi Power could only justify customer savings by using a natural gas scenario that projected gas prices would rise from $11 per million British thermal units in 2014 to $22 per mmBtu in 2050.  

   U.S. gas prices are the lowest in a decade due to booming output from shale-rock formations.  [ID:nL2E8EU3JT] 

   IGCC technology heats coal to convert it into a synthesis gas that is processed to remove numerous pollutants before being sent to a traditional combined-cycle power plant to produce electricity.   

   Kemper was designed to showcase a gasification technology developed by another Southern Co subsidiary to burn Mississippi lignite and had support from state economic development groups and then-Governor Haley Barbour. 

 

(Reporting By Eileen O’Grady; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer and David Gregorio)  ((eileen.ogrady@thomsonreuters.com)(+1 713 210 8522)(Reuters Messaging:eileen.ogrady.reuters.come@reuters.net))

Keywords: UTILITIES SOUTHERN/KEMPER

 

For Related News, Double Click on one of these codes:[E] [ELN] [O] [U] [NAW] [OIL] [PSC] [RNP] [DNP] [PCO] [PEN] [PCU] [COM] [UTIL] [ENR] [ELG] [NGS] [GASPWR] [COA] [ELEU] [FIN] [US] [CMPNY] [ENER] [FINS] [AMERS] [NRG] [PWR] [LEN] [RTRS] [SO.N]

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 Friday, 30 March 2012 16:39:12RTRS [nL2E8EUAHQ] {EN}ENDS

Eileen O’Grady
Houston Correspondent

Thomson Reuters

Office: 713 210 8522
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eileen.ogrady@thomsonreuters.com
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This email was sent to you by Thomson Reuters, the global news and information company. Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the sender specifically states them to be the views of Thomson Reuters

Louie Miller

State Director

Sierra Club Mississippi

601-624-3503 (mobile)

louie.miller@sierraclub.org

 

 

 

Letters to the Editor of Mississippi Newspapers! Stop Kemper Coal Plant!

At our Occupy Biloxi/Gulfport meeting on Saturday, March 24 we discussed our project to support the Sierra Club in putting a  halt to the construction of the MS Power Kemper Coal Plant.  We decided it would be good to emphasize writing letters to the editors of newspapers in MS.  Therefore, this blog will show you an example of one I have just written and give you the addresses and instructions to strongly encourage EACH of you to write one, too.  If you sit on the sidelines in this matter, it could  well cost you nearly $15,000 as you face increased prices for your electricity from MS Power.  We have provided you with the email addresses you need at the end and Will Watson and I offer you help in drafting your letters, if you desire.  And a special thanks to Will for editing mine, too! Tom Baldwin, Ph.D., doctom2010@yahoo.com       Will Watson, Ph.D., wil.watson@usm.edu  __________________________________________________________ LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

Congratulations to the Sierra Club for its initial victory over the Mississippi Power (MPC) Kemper Coal scam!  By a 9-0 decision on March 15, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Kemper permit had been improperly issued.  Our experience with Occupy Biloxi/Gulfport has been that the Coast citizenry are poorly informed on this huge issue. Coverage by our local media—both print and television—has been totally inadequate.

For instance, MPC’s charges that the lawsuit has been a “scare tactic” are deeply misleading.  The FACTS are these:  1) MPC spent at least $11 million to unduly influence the state legislature, former Governor Barbour and the Public Service Commission to approve a very risky project and bill residential ratepayers some $3 billion dollars to pay for it.  That is approximately $15,000 each for their nearly 190,000 residential customers!  2)  The plant design depends upon a “coal gasification” technology that has NEVER worked on a utility scale. 3.) The Obama Department of Energy has already invested nearly $245 million in Kemper, with more to come. Obama and DOE Secretary Chu are gambling on “clean coal” with your federal tax dollars.

Cindy Duvall and Jeff Shepard, spokespersons from MPC, have made false statements that only “extremists” and the “uninformed” oppose Kemper. I can state with certainty that they’re the ones who are uninformed. And, indeed, what could be more “extreme” than MPC’s plan to rip off ratepayers and pollute our water and air? We have people only too happy to debate them, in a public forum, about the reality of Kemper.

In the meantime, citizens should call their Public Service Commissioners immediately Call Leonard Bentz at  1-800-356-6429 and  Lynn Posey at 1-800-356-6430  and tell them to “Stop Kemper Coal NOW!” Tom Baldwin, Ph.D. Biloxi, MS,  March 25, 2012 __________________________________________________________________  Addresses to contact newspapers:  In your correspondence add your address and telephone number, not in your letter.

Clarion Ledger (Jackson)  letters@jackson.gannett.co 

Sun Herald (Gulfport-Biloxi)  letters@sunherald.com 

The Hattiesburg American has one dedicated page for all contacts with the public: go to the url and sort through the prompts. http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/section/CUSTOMERSERVICE03

The Mississippi Press  mseditor@themississippipress.com 

The Meridian Star  publisher@meridianstar.com 

Tupelo Daily Journal  opinion@journalinc.com 

Laurel Leader Call  editor@laurelleadercall.com

 

Kemper Coal Plant Update: New Flyer for Distribution!!

Download and print a Flyer for distribution by clicking  Kemper Coal Flyer III, Will’s edits–final

Mississippi Power Company will raise your electric bill as much as 45% to pay for the expensive, dirty and unnecessary Kemper Coal experiment: unless you take action! 

Mississippi Power spent millions lobbying state legislators to shift the cost of this highly experimental, $2.88 billion power plant from its stockholders to its residential customers. Besides being expensive, the Kemper plan’s also dirty. It includes a huge strip mine and coal ash dump that will pollute the Pascagoula River, its headwaters and wetlands and even the Mississippi Sound. And if the experimental “clean coal” process doesn’t work, Kemper will be a major source of air pollution.

Finally, a new plant is unnecessary: there’s already more than enough unused generating capacity in the MPC service area. Natural gas fired plants have 12 times the capacity proposed at Kemper! The Kemper plan will make windfall profits for Mississippi Power but hand all the expense, and the risk, to residential ratepayers, who’ll see no benefit at all. 

Kemper Coal: Bad for your budget; Bad for our water; Bad for our air.

It can be stopped, however: The Mississippi Supreme Court recently denied the Kemper permit and sent it back to the Public Service Commission for more review. At the first review, in April 2010, Commissioner Brandon Presley voted NO, as did Leonard Bentz. Mr. Bentz, however, changed his vote to YES in May 2010, for reasons that the Supreme Court found unconvincing.

We, the people of Mississippi, need to tell Leonard Bentz and Lynn Posey to change their votes to “No” and STOP KEMPER COAL!

Call, e-mail, or write:

Public Service Commissioner Southern District Leonard Bentz  (First Priority!)   (800) 356-6429         southern.district@psc.state.ms.us 

Public Service Commissioner Central District Lynn Posey (800) 356-6430        central.district@psc.state.ms.us 

 Public Service Commissioner Northern District Brandon Presley (800) 356-6428      northern.district@psc.state.ms.us (Thank  Mr. Presley!)

 Mississippi Public Service Commissioner’s Office ,Woolfolk Building   501 North West Street   Suite 201A   Jackson, MS   39201 

MS Power Company Media Relations Coordinator:    Jeff Shepard  (228) 864-1611


How Corporatism Works in Mississippi to Enslave and Bankrupt its Citizens–Exhibit I: The Kemper Coal Plant

In what will turn out to be a series of blog posts, I intend to present concrete evidence that major corporations with key elected officials are attempting to exploit the poorest state in the nation by expanding their businesses at our expense!  The MS Power Co. (owned by the Southern Co. of GA) is Exhibit I.  In this case, they are trying to force the ratepayers to pay the full cost of their construction of the experimental, dirty coal plant in Kemper County which will amount to a total cost of nearly $16,000 per ratepayer and/or nearly $1000 for every woman and child in the State of MS.— Dr. Tom  Baldwin, Biloxi, MS

{URGENT REQUEST OF ALL MISSISSIPPIANS:  CALL MS PSC COMMISSIONER LEONARD BENTZ at 1-800-356-6429 OR WRITE HIM AT     southern.district@psc.state.ms.us   TELLING HIM TO DROP HIS SUPPORT OF KEMPER COAL NOW!} 

Chu-Backed Coal Plant Faces Tough Questions

By ERICA MARTINSON 

March 19, 2012 8:59 AM EDT

https://www.politicopro.com/story/energy/?id=10073

(This story is reproduced verbatim with some underscoring.)

The Mississippi Supreme Court is questioning the high costs local citizens face for building an innovative carbon-capture coal plant that has been the subject of financial support and personal intervention from former Gov. Haley Barbour and Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

On Thursday the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the local public utility commission needs to back up its unusual decision allowing Mississippi Power Co. (owned by Southern Co.) to charge customers for the construction of a $2.88 billion coal-fired power plant while it is being built.

The Mississippi Public Service Commission made that decision only after Southern Co. said it would have to halt the project for lack of funding. At that point, Chu jumped into the fray, finding himself the unlikely bedfellow of Barbour, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The project is of national importance “because it provides a viable option for using our abundant coal resources in a cost-effective and clean manner and for reducing power plant emissions,” Chu said in a May 19, 2010, letter to Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley. He said reliance on coal is important to national security and in that sense the plant could help protect the country from volatile and unstable international energy markets.

When complete, the 582 megawatt coal-fired power plant would capture around 65 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions and use that CO2 in oil drilling projects elsewhere in the state.

And in the letter Chu also tugged on a couple of purse strings: He noted that more than $400 million has already been invested by DOE and Southern Co. for technology used at the plant. And if the project was delayed, Chu said he may have to reallocate $270 million of DOE direct funding for the project. And he warned any delay would also put $412 million of investment tax credits authorized by congress “in jeopardy.” It could also affect Mississippi Power Co.’s credit rating, he said.

The viability of commercial scale carbon capture and sequestration is key to the Obama administration’s plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions at new power plants. (Currently holed up at the White House is a rule to require that new power plants hold a line on carbon dioxide emissions similar to those from a natural gas-fired plant.)

“Without the Kemper County Project, DOE may not have the opportunity to demonstrate this technology and make it available for the cost-effective use of low rank coals for power generation,” Chu wrote.

So whether the Kemper County project is even remotely cost-effective speaks at the very least to the perception of whether carbon capture is actually an “available” technology.

“There’s a certain chicken-egg problem,” said John Thompson, director of the fossil transition project for the Clean Air Task Force. “There’s limited deployment of the technology until the rules come out. And it’s always hard to get the rule to come out until there’s more technology out there.”

The reality of the coal-fired power business is that carbon capture and sequestration is not yet operating at commercial scale, and given the current low price of natural gas, it is in comparison exorbitantly expensive.

And that high price tag falls, generally, only to local power customers who often have no choice in where they draw their power.

“I’m not going to try to prejudge what the public service commission is going to decide … what is fair for Mississippi,” Thompson said, while noting that the project is of global significance.

The Sierra Club, however, is hopeful things will swing in the other direction. The environmental group has been fighting the project and called Thursday’s ruling “a major blow to the dirty, expensive and unnecessary proposed Kemper coal plant project,” saying the technology is “expensive and untested.”

Louie Miller, the director of the Mississippi chapter of the Sierra Club, said that the change-of-heart by two of three commissioners was due to outside pressure from Southern Co. and Chu.

“They came back and gave them another $488 million on top of the $2.4 billion” and also allowed the company to draw reimbursement before the plant is online, Miller said. Traditionally, “all the risk is borne by the Fortune 500 Corporation and the stockholders.”

But the commission was under extreme pressure from “the Secretary of Energy [who was] sending very forcefully worded letters … to our Podunk public service commission to reconsider their vote” and from then-governor Barbour, who has strong lobbying ties to Southern Co., Miller said.

Barbour has charged that the project is important for Mississippi and the nation’s energy future and spoke at the project’s groundbreaking. And Miller charges that DOE went barreling forward with the project without carefully considering the federal investment or whether the permit would even be finalized at the plant.

Commissioner Brandon Presley, the lone-dissenter on the three-man panel , was thrilled with the 9-0 decision by the Mississippi Supreme Court, saying in a statement Thursday that it “deals a serious blow to the company’s corporate socialism.”

“In this case, Mississippi Power Co. gave new meaning to the phrase ‘We got the gold mine, they got the shaft,’” he said, arguing that the company is hiding rate impacts and mistreating customers who risk a 45 percent rate hike.

“I believe in ‘pay as you go,’ I just don’t believe you should pay BEFORE you go,” Presley’s statement said.

The Mississippi Supreme Court only asked the commission to provide more evidence to the record for its decision, and to that end, Mississippi Power is confident nothing will change, said company spokesman Jeff Shepard.

Southern Co. spokeswoman Stephanie Kirijan said the company “will work closely with the commission to resolve the issues raised by the Supreme Court.”

So far, she said, the project has received $245 million from DOE and is awaiting $25 million more “following commercial operation.”

Know Thine Enemies in Mississippi: PSC Commissioners Bentz and Posey

by Dr. Tom Baldwin, Biloxi, MS*

March 19, 2012

{URGENT REQUEST OF ALL MISSISSIPPIANS:  CALL MS PSC COMMISSIONER LEONARD BENTZ at 1-800-356-6429 OR WRITE HIM AT     southern.district@psc.state.ms.us   TELLING HIM TO DROP HIS SUPPORT OF KEMPER COAL}

In what may become known as a “Landmark Decision”, the Mississippi Supreme Court voted 9 to 0 on Thursday, March 15, to remand Mississippi Power’s permit for  the Kemper County boondoggle back to the state Public Service Commission. The Court decided that the PSC had not adequately explained why it reversed its initial April 2010 ruling–which denied the permit.  In May 2010, the PSC reversed itself  (and approved the project)  with an increased budget of $2.88 billion after initially denying the permit to build the Kemper plant at a budget of $2.44 Billion. State law requires the PSC to provide adequate evidence of its reasoning in case a decision is appealed. And in this case, the court decided, this evidence had not been provided by the PSC.   

Furthermore, the process had been set in motion to begin charging the ratepayers for construction costs at the start on the construction!  MS Power had already made its announcement of requesting approval by the  PSC for the first “installment” on those payments by increasing rates for ratepayers by more than 11% in its January 2012 billing.  The atrocious behavior of MS Power and the PSC was about to be exposed with this giant scam.   A major puzzling piece of this puzzle occurred in the one month between April 2010 and May 2010 as the MS Supreme Court recognized in its hearing in December 2011.  Had  it not been for the Sierra Club’s suit, ratepayers were about to be charged 2.9 billion dollars for a piece of experimental junk whether it worked or not.  Considering MS Power has about 180,000 ratepayers in MS,  that amounts to over $10,000 per ratepayer.  How you feel about dem barrel of apples which are rotten at the core?

Two PSC Commissioners, Leonard Bentz, Southern District and Lynn Posey, Central District were responsible for this impending disaster.  In contrast, Brandon Presley, Northern District was the “Lone Ranger” who courageously opposed what he called “Corporate Socialism”.  It might be more accurate to define Kemper as  “Corporate Fascism” or “Corporatism”, something we are witnessing in other cases throughout the nation and especially in Mississippi by the energy industry. For the record, “Corporatism” was first defined as the merger of corporate with state power by Benita Mussolini in the early part of the 20th century, before Hitler and the German Third Reich added racism to the mix.

Therefore, it is important that everyone “get to know” your two Commissioners Bentz and Posey.  We intend to make them “famous” for all to see.  And we invite all Occupy Movements to join us in this effort as well as those who are concerned about the economic and environmental welfare of those in Mississippi!

* A special thanks to Professor Will Watson of USM for his editorial comments.

Public Service Commissioner’s Bentz and Posey, as per their official “bios”:



About Commissioner Bentz

Commissioner Bentz

Leonard Bentz represents the Southern District of the Public Service Commission and is currently serving as Chairman. He previously served as chairman of the Commission in 2008. Commissioner Bentz has been committed to a life of public service. Commissioner Bentz started serving the public as a Harrison County Deputy Sheriff in the patrol, narcotics, and investigations divisions until 1999. Upon leaving the Sheriff’s Department, Leonard went to work for the Mississippi Public Service Commission as a utility investigator where he worked for the Commission until 2003. In 2004 Commissioner Bentz ran for, and was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives representing District 116. He served in the House of Representatives until April 2006. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Southern District Commissioners office was vacated, leaving an unexpired term to fill. Governor Barbour, who knew Leonard’s unwavering commitment and his record for making tough decisions, appointed Leonard to fill the unexpired term. In 2007, Commissioner Bentz ran for and was elected to the office of Southern District Public Service Commissioner.Commissioner Bentz understands that Federal intrusion in the utility business is the driving force behind such initiatives as cap and tax and unrealistic environmental controls. These intrusions will severely handicap rate-payers in Mississippi. This is one reason why he will take a proactive, creative, and common sense approach to solving problems. Commissioner Bentz remains committed to his conservative values and principles to insure that the rate-payers are protected.Commissioner Bentz is a member of the Mississippi and National Republican Party, Gulf Coast Honor Flight, Rotary, Area Development Partnership, Mississippi Farm Bureau, various Chambers, National Rifle Association, Ducks Unlimited, National and Mississippi Right to Life, USM Eagle Club, Mississippi Rural Water Association, various Regulatory Associations and Young Professionals.Commissioner Bentz, 40, is a ninth generation Mississippian and is married to his high school sweetheart, the former Amber Fayard, of D’Iberville, MS. They reside in Woolmarket with their two children, Len, age 19 and Hunter, age 14. The Bentz family belong to and attend, St. Mary’s Church in Woolmarket.




About Commissioner Posey

Commissioner Posey

Lynn Posey is currently serving as Central District Public Service Commissioner and is also Chairman of the Commission.Commissioner Posey was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi. He is a graduate of Copiah-Lincoln Community College; as well as Mississippi State University where he earned a B.S. degree and a Masters degree in Public Administration. He is also a graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Banking.Commissioner Posey served in the Mississippi State Senate from 1988-2007. While in the Senate, Commissioner Posey served 16 years as Chairman of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks and was a member of the Public Utilities Committee for 16 years. He also served as a sub-committee chairman on Appropriations, Business and Financial Institutions, Economic Development and Forestry. In addition, Posey also served as the Chairman of the PEER Committee, as well as the Founder and Chairman of the Mississippi Sportsman Caucus.
Commissioner Posey is married to the former Kathy Singletary of Crystal Springs, MS. They reside in Union Church, MS. and have two children, Hunter and Kaitlyn. The Posey’s belong to the Union Church Baptist Church. 
________________________________________________________________________________________
PLEASE SIGN AND  SUBMIT THIS  PETITION NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE!!

 
Whether you live in MS or not, please sign and submit this petition as a vote for clean energy and the environment.

action.sierraclub.org

Just a few days ago, Mississippi’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously 9 to 0 that Mississippi Power and the Public Service Commission (PSC) broke the law when they approve the Kemper dirty coal plant.1 With your support, Sierra Club had opposed the plant, which would cost ratepayers $2.88 billion in …

Driving Corporatist Snakes out of Mississippi Starting with the MS Power Kemper Coal Plant

by Dr. Tom Baldwin, Biloxi, MS

March 17,  2012

As I have just written elsewhere,  an enormous victory for the economic, health, justice and welfare for Mississippians has just been granted by the MS Supreme Court! And it  all occurred because some courageous and persistent people from the Sierra Club and their  supporters did not sit on their butts and instead got involved.  It should be a very important lesson for all of us.  It also has implications for other major corporatist  abuses going on in MS but are occurring under tables and behind closed doors.  This blog will spell out specifically the case involved with the big defeat of the Kemper Coal Power Plant.  But remember everyone, it ain’t never over ’til it’s over.

This case can be reviewed fairly simply though the process was hidden and distorted from public view as best the Mississippi  Power Company (and it’s parent company  the Southern Company of Georgia)  could  hide it.  In 2008, in the MS state legislature a bill was passed  Senate Bill  2793, signed by Governor Barbour, which permitted the Public Service Commision to include in its electricity rates the preconstruction of a scam like the one designed by MS Power.  Got  it yet,  folks?

The process was set in motion as then Governor Haley Barbour intended.  It is important to note that Haley Barbour’s lobbying firm BGR, which he founded in 1991 long before he was in public office and became Chairman of the Republican National Committee and more recently Chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, had as a significant client the Southern Company of Georgia. If one reviews BGR’s records one will observe they have received millions of dollars in lobbying fees from Southern over many years.  Incidentally, almost the day Barbour  left office in January 2012, he went back as an employee of his lobbying firm, BGR.

How does this set the stage for what happened after the MS legislative  action in 2008? It’s fairly simple.  The Southern-MS Power companies conceived of new power plants to build in MS.  One  hairbrained scheme was to take advantage of the emphasis on “clean coal”.  They had an experimental facility in Alabama which had been sponsored by the Department of Energy.  They first  decided to expand that concept in Florida and it was  eventually rejected.  But  they had received a nearly $290 million  grant from the Department of Energy that needed to  be transferred or lost.  Thus, they came up with the real boondoggle of combining “clean coal” technology, mining of lignite coal in Mississippi, and producing unique energy from coal,  generating electricity, capturing carbon dioxide pollutants (and selling those) and everybody wins, right?  Good grief.

Now all MS Power had to do was convince the Public  Service Commission this was a great deal for citizens of MS, especially the ratepayers.  In the first round of PSC decisions in April 2010 they failed to get a positive vote because two of the three Commissioners voted no.  The cost MPC had proposed was $2.4 billion dollars but now the cost had been shoved onto the ratepayers thanks to the new law.  Incidentally, they were also unable to get private financing because private investors also considered it “too risky”.  Within a month,  one PSC Commissioner,  Leonard Bentz (Southern District),  had changed his mind.  Golly, I wonder what happened, don’t you?  The new  proposal which MS Power submitted had increased the price  of this atrocity to  $2.88 billion dollars.  Now it was considered less risky?  The MS Supreme Court didn’t think so in its latest decision.

Citizens simply do not understand this crap (no one should) even though they might be paying attention to some of it.  It has not been given adequate attention especially in the press in Southern MS.  Let me simply explain with three simple examples what it would have meant had MS Power been able to continue with their scam:  1)  It would have resulted in an “investment” of $1000 for every man, woman and child  in this state in their boondoggle with no guarantees of anything in return;  the consequences for ratepayers may have been three to ten times worse.  2) It would have meant that corporations like MS Power (Southern Co. ) would increase their assets by $2.88 billion dollars at our expense;  3)  It would have meant that their exercise of influence with state officials totally control our economic, health and well being and we are willing to watch it occur.

When  we at Occupy Biloxi got  involved at about the first of December 2011 we learned that even merchants were not  generally aware of how their  electricity rates were going to be dramatically increased while the Kemper Coal Plant was being built.  And no  one still has any idea of how if this “great experiment” doesn’t work how they will get their money back.  They should know, but don’t, people in Southern Mississippi were never intended to receive any benefits from it whether it worked or not.  It was a gigantic corporate scam, period, carried on by a collaboration between a major corporation and MS state government with Haley Barbour in  charge.

All of the citizens of Mississippi and  especially those in So. MS  owe an enormous  debt of gratitude to the Sierra Club and its supporters for “capturing” one of the  biggest “snakes” in our history and driving it out of town.  That’s the context of  this blog.  It’s quite clear to me now where our problem in this matter exists in So. MS and it is  with Leonard Bentz our Public Service Commissioner.  I am going to suggest we “Occupy Leonard Bentz” and see how that works.

Much more  will be written soon on related matters but  in the meantime I hope you had a  Happy St. Patrick’s Day, too!

Big Victory Over MS Power’s Kemper Plant Scam: Sierra Club 9, MS Power 0

by Dr. Tom Baldwin, Biloxi, MS
March  17,  2012
From:  MS Director of the Sierra Club on MS Supreme Court Kemper Plant Decision
Subject: Fw: WE WON KEMPER ON A UNANIMOUS SUPREME COURT DECISION !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tom’s Simple Reply and Comment:  THIS FANTASTIC COMMUNICATION FROM LOUIE  MILLER WAS RECEIVED THIS AFTERNOON (Thursday, March 15).  IT IS INCREDIBLY GOOD NEWS AND EVERYONE WHO HAS FOUGHT SO HARD ON THE SIERRA CLUB TEAM FOR THIS SO LONG DESERVES CONGRATULATIONS AND MAYBE EVEN A STIFF DRINK!!  LET’S KEEP GOING GUYS AND NOT LET UP!!  LET’S ROLL IN MISSISSIPPI!!  I FEEL SO PRIVILEGED JUST TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH SUCH SUPERB PROFESSIONALISM AND LOUIE AND HIS TEAM ARE THE BEST!!
TOM
________________________________________________________________________________________
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF MISSISSIPPI
NO. 2011-CA-00350-SCT
SIERRA CLUB
v.
MISSISSIPPI PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION
AND MISSISSIPPI POWER COMPANY, INC.
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/28/2011
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JAMES B. PERSONS
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY CHANCERY COURT
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ROBERT B. WIYGUL
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
BY: JUSTIN L. MATHENY
L. CHRISTOPHER LOMAX
HAROLD EDWARD PIZZETTA, III
SHAWN STEPHEN SHURDEN
LEO ERNEST MANUEL
BEN HARRY STONE
TIM A. FORD
WILLIAM L. SMITH
RICKY J. COX
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL – STATE BOARDS AND AGENCIES
DISPOSITION: REVERSED AND REMANDED – 03/15/2012
MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED:
MANDATE ISSUED:
BEFORE DICKINSON, P.J., RANDOLPH AND PIERCE, JJ.
DICKINSON, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:
¶1. The Mississippi Power Company (“MPC”) applied to the Mississippi Public Service
Commission (“Commission”) for permission to proceed with construction of a new power
generation facility that would employ a new technology not in operation anywhere else in
the United States, and to begin assessing the cost of construction (capped at $2.88 billion)
1 Miss. Code Ann. § 77-3-59 (Rev. 2009).
2
to its current customers. The Sierra Club opposed the project before the Commission, but
the Commission entered an order in favor of MPC. The Chancery Court of Harrison County
affirmed, and the Sierra Club appealed.
¶2. When the Commission grants authority for such projects, Mississippi law requires it
to make findings supporting its decision; and, according to the statute, the Commission’s
findings must be “supported by substantial evidence presented” which “shall be in sufficient
detail to enable [this] court on appeal to determine the controverted questions presented, and
the basis of the commission’s conclusion.”1 We find the Commission’s approval of the
project fails to satisfy this requirement, so we reverse the chancery court’s judgment and the
Commission’s order and remand to the Commission for further proceedings.
¶3. REVERSED AND REMANDED.
WALLER, C.J., CARLSON, P.J., RANDOLPH, LAMAR, KITCHENS,
CHANDLER, PIERCE AND KING, JJ., CONCUR.
________________________________________________________________________________________
Commissioner Brandon Presley’s (Northern District (and one of three Commissioners who opposed the original decision to build this monstrosity) formal comments after the  decision:
Jackson, Mississippi (March 15, 2012) – Today Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley issued the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s reversal of Mississippi PowerCompany’s Kemper County Coal Plant: Today’s 9-0 decision by the Mississippi Supreme Court reversing the $2.8 billion Kemper County Coal Plant is a major victory for each and every customer of Mississippi Power Company and deals a serious blow to the company’s corporate socialism.

In this case, Mississippi Power Company gave new meaning to the phrase “We got the gold mine, they got the shaft”.

I’ve argued consistently that customers of Mississippi Power Company have been mistreated by the company hiding rate impacts in this case and by putting their shareholders above their customers.
This plant is untried technology. The shareholders have no risks while the customers have all the risks along with a 45% rate hike to boot. The company also wanted to raise rates before the plant produced any electricity. I believe in “pay as you go”, I just don’t believe you should pay BEFORE you go.

I personally wrote multi-page dissents in this case and am pleased today to see that those arguments were not in vain. This $2.8 billion case comes back now to the commission for further
review.

A “Funny” Thing Happened on the Way to the Gulf Coast Energy Forum

Dr. Tom Baldwin, Biloxi, MS

March 14, 2012 

On Monday,  March 12, a coalition of the  Sierra Club, Gulf Restoration Network,  Occupy Biloxi and others,  assembled peacefully on Highway  90 in front of the Biloxi Gulf Coast Coliseum to conduct a protest. 

Inside the Coliseum a group was assembling to conduct a Gulf Coast Energy Summit which had been called by MS Governor Bryant and the Mississsipi  Development Authority.  Special guests of honor were Republican candidates for the presidency,  Newt  Gingrich and Rick Santorum.  It was clear to anyone paying attention that this was a Republican campaign event on the eve of the MS primary election to be held on the next day, March 13.  The main subject on the agenda was to promote off shore drilling in MS waters including those which were near the barrier islands designated as the Gulf Islands National  Seashore, a national park area. Continue reading

Say No to Drilling Gulf Islands National Seashore

By Ed Cake, Jr. Ph.D.

Ocean Springs, MS

March 9, 2012 

Introduction to letter to those listed below:  The Mississippi Coast is a vibrant place of beaches and wetlands, with the barrier island chain of the Gulf Islands National Seashore serving as a centerpiece. Known for abundant fishing and diverse wildlife, the Mississippi Coast supports a thriving regional economy based on tourism and the seafood industry. Unfortunately, these valued coastal treasures and economies are now being threatened by efforts to open up Mississippi state waters to oil and gas drilling, exploration, and production.

  • Governor Phil Bryant
  • Lt. Governor Tate Reeves
  • Attorney General Jim Hood
  • Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann
  • MDA Executive Director Jim Barksdale

I am writing to urge you to stop the proposed rules for oil and gas exploration, drilling, and production in Mississippi state waters. 

This proposal would allow six-story production platforms within a mile of the Gulf Islands National Seashore barrier islands, two of which are Congressionally designated wilderness, as well as up to the shoreline of the eastern and western parts of Mississippi Sound, and within four to eleven miles of most coastal towns. Plus, these rigs and platforms also mean more oil and gas pipelines along the coast, more industrial ship traffic, and a greater risk for accidents like the 2010 BP oil disaster. We have already seen how oil and gas development has impacted the natural beauty of Louisiana and Alabama’s coasts; let’s not do that to our treasured coast. 

Not only does the proposal endanger our natural treasures, it doesn’t make economic sense. The Mississippi Coast is a major economic engine for the state, drawing thousands of tourists and recreational fishermen annually. It sustains jobs for commercial fishermen and provides endless hours of enjoyment to visitors and families. According to Mississippi Development Authority’s own statistics, coastal tourism alone generated around $2.1 billion in 2011! Just a 2 to 3% drop in tourism could swamp any gains from oil and gas drilling and leave the state with a net loss of revenue. 

Please be advised that the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) failed to identify and mark (for protection) the oyster reefs in Biloxi Bay and other reefs throughout Jackson County on their proposed leasing chart of Mississippi Sound. Those oyster resources were decimated by the BP oil spill and deserve the same protection as the public reefs in the western Sound, especially as we attempt to restore them to their pre-spill ecological importance. 

In addition, there is no designated protective management or buffer zone around Deer Island and adjacent Marsh Point and nearby Round Island, all designated units within the US Coastal Barriers Resources System.  The MDA also failed to designate a protective buffer around the very sensitive Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) in eastern Jackson County.  These omissions should be corrected immediately and/or challenged by Mississippi’s coastal legislative delegation, the Department of Marine Resources, and the Harrison and Jackson County Boards of Supervisors.
 
The MDA has apparently failed in its responsibility to identify and, therefore, protect all of Mississippi’s sensitive coastal areas that may be impacted by inshore oil and gas exploration and development.  Can we trust MDA to meet their responsibility if the agency hasn’t even designated all of the sensitive and protected marine and estuarine areas in Mississippi’s coastal waters?  Not until that agency revises its coastal zone protection map and holds additional public hearings thereon! 

Respectfully, 

Ed Cake 

E.W. “Ed” Cake, Jr., Ph.D.* is the Chief Science Officer at  Gulf Environmental Associates.  You can reach him at  E-mail: ed.cake@yahoo.com  and Mobile: (228) 324-9292

All Hands on Deck: Protect our Gulf Islands National Seashore from Oil/Gas Drilling

MDA Should Promote, Not Diminish,

the Value of Our Most Precious Tourism Assets

Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012

Sun Herald Op-Ed by Louis Skrmetta,

President of Gulf Coast Attractions Association

National Parks are just that: serene, picturesque parks where we can, if only for a brief moment or two, escape the ugliness and stress of the world beyond their borders. Gulf Islands National Seashore is such a place. In 1971, this sanctuary was established to ensure the Mississippi barrier islands are preserved and protected for future generations. Continue reading