Kemper “Clean Coal” Plant Strikes Out for Ratepayers In Mississippi

      

Open Letter to the Customers of Mississippi Power from the Sierra Club of Mississippi **

    Kemper Plant “Strikes Out” for Ratepayers

Tom Fanning, CEO of corporate giant Southern Company, which owns Mississippi Power (MPCO), recently called the boondoggle Kemper Coal Plant a “home run.” He seems to have forgotten that the plant is more than $400 million dollars over budget, only 41% complete1, and that vastly cheaper options are available. 

The Mississippi Business Journal’s investigation found that the Kemper plant will raise MPCO customer’s monthly electric bills by 45%2, costing families hundreds of dollars more every year and crippling small businesses. 

A 45% rate increase is only a home run for Mr. Fanning and the Southern Company’s corporate checkbook. For the Mississippians who have to pay, it’s a strikeout. 

MPCO and Southern Company will be getting a fat profit since state law guarantees them a 10-12% rate of return on every dollar spent to build Kemper. Less than two hundred thousand MPCO customers are footing Kemper’s growing $3.62 Billion3 bill, regardless of whether the experimental plant will ever work or not. What’s more, thanks to a bill MPCO pushed through the legislature in 2008, the company can charge its customers in advance before the plant is even – or ever – completed.

That turns out to be nearly $15,000 on average for every customer.  Even the technology being proposed to make electricity from the lignite coal is experimental and risky; it has never been employed on a commercial scale. In fact, MPCO Vice President Tom Anderson testified before the state Public Service Commission that he could not guarantee the Kemper plant would work on day one.5

In the end, Mississippi families and businesses will be forced to shell out several billion dollars to build a plant that is already hundreds of millions over budget and is not guaranteed to work on day one. And once Mississippians start to pay, they will be paying for 40 years, even with cheaper, cleaner energy sources available.

       IN WHAT BALL PARK IS THIS A HOME RUN?

The Mississippi Sierra Club will continue working to protect Mississippi families and businesses from the Kemper boondoggle. Instead we support a sensible solution; for MPCO to convert the plant from lignite to natural gas, which would save MPCO customers a minimum of $1.5 Billion.

If MPCO truly believes their claims that Kemper is the greatest thing since sliced bread, they should gamble with their own money, not that of Mississippi families and businesses.

Call Public Service Commissioner Bentz and ask him to continue to protect your pocket book:  Phone No. 1-228-396-2643

FOR OUR FAMILIES.  FOR OUR FUTURE.

References:

1URS independent monitor report: Sept. 2012. 

2Mississippi Business Journal, Vol.23, No.34 Aug. 23, 2010. 

3URS Independent Monitor Report: Sept. 2012; $2.88 Billion in capped and $744.5 Million in uncapped costs.

4Senate Bill 2793, 2008 Regular Session, Page 3, Line 107.

5Tom Anderson testimony, MS Public Service Commission Hearing, June 22, 2012.

Image presented here is from the Sierra Club site of their 2013 Wilderness Calendar at  http://action.sierraclub.org/site/PageServer?pagename=books_calendars_home&s_src=612HSCZZ01

**This blog is a nearly exact replica of the full page advertisement which appeared in the Sun Herald of Gulfport, MS on November 18, 2012 with some minor additions or changes.


Ex Governor Haley Barbour’s “Love Affair” With the Mississippi Power Co.

by Thomas Baldwin, Biloxi, MS

November 22, 2012 (Thanksgiving)

On the surface, this article may appear to be just about a “little”  three to four billion dollar problem in Mississippi. But in fact, it is a concrete example of how Corporatism is affecting the entire nation using the most impoverished state in the nation as an example of how corporations work with top government officials to profit themselves and those eager and willing to participate.  It will be the subject of a continuing investigation.

Now why would I describe Haley Barbour’s “relationship” with a corporation as a “love affair”?  It is relatively simple. Perhaps you would too if you had a lobbyist consulting firm (BGR–Barbour, Griffith and Rogers) you had established in about 1998 and received about  2 million dollars in payments (source listed below **) from “your lover”, the Southern Co. and while you were Governor of MS from 2003 to 2011.  Of course,  if your wayward son was on board part of this time at BGR to collect his “salary” too, that shouldn’t count should it? 

Thus, for anyone who has tried to follow this saga of the MS Power Kemper “Clean Coal” Power Plant which Haley addressed in his letter of November 10 to the Sun Herald (Gulfport) and to the Clarion Ledger (Jackson) on November 14 they might have a problem.  In his over 800 word letter he blamed the Sierra Club for the reasons of future electricity rate increases for their opposition to Kemper.  But after all, the Southern Co. of GA (MS Power’s parent) and still a primary client has paid his BBR lobbyist firm in Washington at least $150,000 in 2012 alone.  Wouldn’t Haley be expected to at least write a letter to support this atrocious Kemper project which he supported from the start?  I mean, what else is an ex Governor expected to do for his clients?  Incidentally, in 2011 while son Haley Jr. was on staff, the firm collected nearly $200,000 from Southern Co. 

The issues associated with the MS Power/Southern Co. “Clean Coal” power plant in Kemper County, MS are many and are complicated.  But the overwhelming evidence and facts that the Sierra Club has presented from the start to oppose this project are very convincing.  This project is exceedingly expensive (compared to alternatives), the technology is not proven to work at commercial levels and there is no need at the present for this “boondoggle”. MS was “chosen”, thanks to Barbour and Southern, to be the guinea pig for the clean coal “TRIG” experiment in the U.S.  

Potential investors from the beginning would not use their own money to pay for this risk so Mr. Barbour and Southern set up a plan where MS Power would charge their average customer or the rate payers in So. MS for the costs and to take all the risks.  However, most will never receive any benefits from this boondoggle whether it works or not.  There are no guarantees for pollution control from the low energy lignite coal mine that will rape the Earth and pollute our streams.  It is in essence a huge scam of more than three billion dollars being perpetrated on Mississippians using at least 300 million dollars of federal funds. This is how the corporate state treats the poorest state in the union. The costs can be estimated to be a total of $15,000 for each ratepayer and at least 10 million dollars for each of the 260 permanent job created, many of which may not be new.  What a deal, huh?  “Stupid is, as stupid does.” 

The basic question now is what are the citizens going to do about it? Do you support former Governor Barbour or the Sierra Club and their supporters?  I suggest the citizens inform themselves soon and that the press help them soon or we’re all going to pay the price.  

Finally, I  am not a member of the Sierra Club nor paid by anyone but can provide  you with nearly 30 blogs I have written or published on this subject in the last year. Contact me at the email address listed below for more detailed information. 

**Source of data:  Center for Responsive Politics   http://www.opensecrets.org 

Thomas Baldwin

Biloxi, MS

Doctom2010@yahoo.com

________________________________________________________________

About the author;  Thomas Baldwin, Ph.D. has a doctorate in Physics and a Masters degree in Management.  He has had long careers in both physics and management consulting including university appointments as a professor both at the Southern Illinois University and Colorado Technical University.  He has been a corporate consultant to many well known large firms in project management and is current “officially” retired.  In the last four years or more he has been focusing on applying his skills to better understand the political sector including socioeconomic conditions which are affecting our welfare and basic economic health. He can be reached at  doctom2010@yahoo.com  

 

NOW IS THE TIME! To Form an Independent Progressive Political Party

By Thomas Baldwin, Biloxi, MS

November 11, 2012

Numerous progressive authors and spokespersons have continually voiced their opinions about our “broken” and dysfunctional political system.  And a few brave souls like Jill Stein (Green Party) and Rocky Anderson (Justice Party) recently entered the fray and stuck their necks out to provide alternatives to our two party political system to represent elements of the progressive forces. Prior to this, Ralph Nader had been a hero to many of  us with his challenges to the corporate duopoly.  Yet, as I tried to describe in my recent blog, “Clear and Present Danger”: ) the two party duopoly system–Democrat and Republican–has maintained total control and places the nation in imminent danger.  Jill Dalton also describes the corrupt electoral voting system very well in her recent blog entitled “Does Voting Really Matter?” Ironically, our national antitrust laws are intended to prevent monopolies or duopolies in the corporate sector but our government does not demand it of themselves.

These two sectors—corporate and government- – have been merged in the U.S.  That is the very definition of Corporatism (corporate fascism) which was first defined by Benito Mussolini in Italy in the early 1900’s as his preferred form of government.  And perhaps some of you know how that worked out for him as Adolph Hitler in Germany “perfected” it a bit later.  It is basically an extreme state of unregulated or unfettered capitalism.  It worked for them until they brought their countries to total ruin and were finally brought to justice by a hanging or a bullet.  FDR had recognized the dangers of fascism and even though he  was actually threatened by a corporate coup and assassination in the 1930’s,  he spoke out against this force in a significant speech in 1936 when he was running for reelection.  We have almost no examples of courage like that in our national figures today. In fact, if JFK were to rewrite his book, “Profiles in Courage”, he might find one or two examples and they would be “independents” or no longer in office.  He could have found numerous entries to make in a book called “Profiles in Cowardice”.

Well, the U.S. is traveling down that same path of the 1930’s with incredible speed right now.  The two political parties here have now been totally taken over by corporate forces including especially Wall Street.  Despite the fact that the Big Banks recklessness led to a financial crash and great recession in 2008, they currently have assets totaling nearly 60% of our GDP and are larger than before the recession. The Supreme Court gave their blessing to corporate fascism when it made the absurd ruling to grant “personhood” to corporations, gave them unlimited power to invest in elections and equated free speech to unlimited campaign donations in their Citizen’s United decision of 2010. 

Our citizens and our society are being reduced to one of servitude to the wealthy class and corporations both of which have had their taxes steadily reduced for decades.  The income/wealth distribution is now worse than it was in 1929 just before the Great Depression, and it is continuing to get much worse under Obama.  Less than 2% of the population holds nearly 40% of the wealth.  The combined assets of six people in the Walmart family are nearly 100 billion dollars of wealth. The 400 billionaires in this country hold more wealth than about 150 million people.  And neither the Democrat or Republican party will even discuss this issue and acts as if it doesn’t even exist. In fact all we hear is how the taxes on the wealthy need to either be reduced and, at best, maybe increased “a little more”.  Democrats boast about the payroll tax cut for the “Middle Class” but all they’ve done is reduce payments into the Social Security System making it more vulnerable for cuts in the future. We are headed for a violent revolution in the near future, possibly when the next financial crash occurs and that may be soon. The rush by both parties to implement an austerity program is pure unadulterated insanity and only a way for both parties to protect the wealthiest among us.  Obama is a demagogue and has demonstrated that repeatedly with the blessing of the Democratic Party.

Our two party duopoly has made it impossible for an average citizen to run for Congress.  Nearly half of Congressional  members are millionaires.  It has been estimated that at least 6 billion dollars were spent in campaigns for this last election.  The two presidential candidates spent over one billion dollars each not counting the funds spent by Superpacs  and private corporations.   Thus candidates are bought and paid for when they enter office and are assured reelection if they serve their masters. Incumbents are only endangered for reelection if they try to take an independent position and not serve their masters.

The only “peaceful” solution short of a complete violent revolution (which Thomas Jefferson and the Founders might have suggested) is a serious challenge by one or more Third Parties. If Progressives want to be represented then “we” must form a Progressive Party NOW!  Obama has shown clearly he’s not one of us by his actions in his first term.  I am personally not tolerating more B.S. from a demagogic , silver tongued president who continually promises one thing and does another, claiming all the while “the devil made him do it”.  For those who have continued to buy his snake oil and want to block this effort, I suggest they “lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way”.  Here are some basic steps which progressive must take:

1.       Combine the interests of various movements with a coalition of members  and assemble a “platform” which represents the basic values and principles from which policy statements can be drafted.

2.      Circulate a pledge for progressives and those willing to join us to cease and desist giving ANY assistance to the Democrat and Republican Parties in word, deed, or funds. If some bastard like Grover Norquist can get Congress to sign a “no tax increase” pledge, then certainly we can get people to sign a no more support for the two party duopoly!

3.      Commit to ongoing involvement in civic affairs and supporting important issues by word and on foot.

4.      Commit to a unified independent Progressive Party effort.  Beware of groups trying to sabotage or co-opt these efforts.

As example of that pledge of Declaration of Independence from the Two Party Corporatist System is presented in this blog which I have prepared.  It may require some amendments but it needs to be kept simple and then possibly distributed in a petition format.

The next step should be to assemble a small “steering” committee of about a dozen people from around the country and meet “virtually” using internet technology to discuss details of the formation and implementation.  This group should be able to work unencumbered and basically privately but reporting progress and results periodically when a consensus on details has been reached. Significant assistance should be sought from the experience of Jill Stein (Green Party) and Rocky Anderson (Justice Party) as well as from Ralph Nader’s previous efforts to run for the presidency.

We know from many polling sources that Congressional approval ratings are at all time lows and have been as low as 10%.  We know from numerous polls that Congress ignores the wishes of large majorities of people in legislating and representing the population.  I am certain that there are millions of citizens who will be drawn to this new Party if the Steering Committee does a competent and credible job. Some ideas as to who should serve on that Committee are listed in this recent blog I posted. They must be a group of trusted individuals whose  primary motivation is to serve this cause, not themselves or their organizations.

An organization which has been working to coordinate the progressive groups which has membership and participation from throughout the nation but little recognition appears to be the Independent Progressive Politics Network (IPPN). They have also been actively involved in the Move to Amend campaign to address the Supreme Court’s atrocious ruling in Citizen’s United.  This  organization definitely deserves more attention!

 Ralph Nader who has been consistently ignored or dismissed from the corporate media and blamed for his independent approaches needs to be considered a leader in this effort.  I still hear stupid Democrats who profess to be “liberals” and don’t have a clue as to what really happened in Florida in the election of 2000 talking about this and blaming him for Bush’s election.  It is disgusting what ignorance they project.  They are as bad as Tea Party ignoramuses who were co-opted by the corporatists in 2010.  

What I am suggesting is that we get started NOW and that some national leaders with some reputation step forward and help lead this effort rather than  just continue to talk about it and wringing  our hands.  Some names that come to mind are Ralph Nader, Chris Hedges, Tom Hartman, Glen Greenwald, Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Rob Kall, Glen Ford, Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, Dennis Kucinich, Russ Feingold, Alan Grayson, etc. and others that I named in my blog listed above.   

One final comment here:  My “dream” of a possible solution to this dilemma is that we have a mass protest in Washington with “only” one percent of Americans or 3 million people.  Wouldn’t it be ironic to see one percent of the population actually represent the other 99% by “voting” with their feet? We would protest this  totally incompetent,  insensitive  and non compassionate behavior toward the citizenry. It would scare the hell out of those in Washington in all branches of government. There are two objections to this idea of a political “party” which I see coming immediately.  The first is the customary one that “we don’t need no new political party and besides the timing is wrong”.  That implies that this can be done through the corporatist Democratic Party which has proven to be a lie and insane.  The second is that we don’t  need a “Party” we need a movement.  But the movement must unite these disparate forces of progressive values and principles which will give us strength in numbers.  Otherwise the corporatists, in working through both primary parties, will succeed in dividing and conquering. That is the purpose of this blog to convince the various groups to unite.  It is time to seriously debate this issue NOW and not four years from now.  But I also admit this is like herding cats!  

It’s time to say “Let’s Roll!”  I will continue to do what I can from Biloxi, MS and urge others to do likewise.

____________________________________________________________

About the author;  Thomas Baldwin, Ph.D. has a doctorate in Physics and a Masters degree in Management.  He has had long careers in both physics and management consulting including university appointments as a professor both at the Southern Illinois University and Colorado Technical University.  He has been a corporate consultant to many well known large firms in project management and is current “officially” retired.  In the last four years or more he has been focusing on applying his skills to better understand the political sector including socioeconomic conditions which are affecting our welfare and basic economic health. He can be reached at  doctom2010@yahoo.com  

**A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE FROM THE TWO PARTY CORPORATIST POLITICAL SYSTEM

**A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE FROM THE TWO PARTY CORPORATIST POLITICAL SYSTEM

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”** 

When it becomes obvious that we are ruled by two corrupt primary political parties, Democrat and Republican, and when it becomes obvious that they are both totally controlled by corporatist influences, then it becomes necessary to oppose this force of evil.  The only solutions become one of dissolution of the two party system, enabling “third” parties to enter the political arena and halt this total control of corporate power and greed, or to encourage an overthrow of our system. 

I, therefore, pledge myself to the following: 

1.    Cease and desist giving any support, monetary, voice and deed to support either the Democrat and Republican Party and to cease voting for a candidate because they run under these labels.

2.    Commit to supporting socioeconomic movements which promote the common good and the common welfare which are “non partisan” with respect to these two parties.

3.    Commit to building “third party” efforts which represent principles and values and offer solutions to serious societal problems based upon facts and accurate data combined with empathy and social conscience.

4.    Commit to my responsibility to inform myself and others of civic related activities in which all might participate.

5.     Commit to supporting the Constitution of the U.S. with its Amendments which will continue to guarantee us a (democratic)  Republic as designed by the Founders.

I am a willing signatory of this document and will display it proudly and share my decision with others in all ways possible, including the internet and social media. 

­­­­_________________________                           ­­­_________________

 Signature                                                                                           Date

** From  the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.