BREAKING NEWS: MIssissippi Power Continues its Boondoggle and Scam with Kemper Coal

Here are two dueling press releases this week on the giant scam being propagated by the MS Power Company with the MS Public Service Commission’s blessing.  It is outrageous behavior by two publicly elected officials, Leonard Bentz and Lynn Posey.  The MS Sierra Club has bravely and strongly tried to represent the interests of the public and has made important progress.  I am not a member of the Sierra Club but strongly support their position in this matter.  Read for yourself and learn!!  If you are an electricity  ratepayer in So. MS this could well cost you as much as $15,000 each.

Thomas Baldwin, Ph.D., Biloxi, MS

This is incredibly fast breaking news and before I could even get this published the following announcement appeared from Louie Miller, Director of MS Sierra Club:

Sierra Club Takes Latest PSC Flip-Flop To Court

Two Commissioners Can’t Really Decide What They Think About Dirty, Expensive, Unnecessary Plant

The entire statement from Louie will appear at the end of this blog, but this statement and quote from the attorney Robert Wiygul is very significant:

“The Sierra Club had presented the Commission with expert testimony and evidence that gas prices, now at historic lows, have rendered Kemper a disaster for ratepayers before it is built.  Bentz and Posey have consistently refused to consider whether Kemper still makes sense.

In the latest court filing Sierra Club has asked the court to let Mississippi Power assume the risk of building the plant while the appeal proceeds.  “If Mississippi Power thinks it is such a good idea to build this boondoggle,” said Robert Wiygul, the attorney filing the appeal on behalf of the Sierra Club, “the company should take the risk and build the plant on its own nickel.  Instead, Mississippi Power wants the citizens of the coast to take all the risk.”

________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release: April 24, 2012 

Contact: Jenna Garland, (404) 607-1262 x 222, (404) 281-6398

Louie Miller, (601) 859-1054 

PSC Votes to Rubber Stamp Kemper, Bailout Mississippi Power

Sierra Club Will Continue Opposing Dirty, Expensive, Unnecessary Plant 

Jackson, MS – The Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) has once again violated state law to approve the Kemper County coal plant, effectively issuing a bailout to Mississippi Power. The PSC held a meeting this morning to consider a proposed order from Mississippi Power asking to change language related to the mandatory cost-caps on the $2.88+ billion coal gasification plant. Following the precedent set in the March 30 meeting, the PSC again met for less than 5 minutes, and refused to hear from the public or counsel.  

“Commissioners Leonard Bentz and Lynn Posey just gave Mississippi Power yet another bailout at the expense of the ratepayer. They refused again to listen to the public or even consider the hard facts on Kemper,” said Louie Miller, State Director of the Mississippi Sierra Club. “Leonard Bentz just rubberstamped the changes. These guys are operating in a fact-free zone.” 

In a 133-page order, Commissioners Bentz and Posey reversed essentially all of the key findings from the Commission’s earlier orders on Kemper.  In April 2010, the Commission included a comprehensive list of findings on the risks to the ratepayer of the Kemper project, and concluded that the Kemper project was not in the public interest and could not be approved unless the cost was capped at $2.4 billion.  Today the Commission reversed that finding, and once again gave MPC an extra $500 million, without explaining how this new ruling could be squared with its earlier ruling. Commissioner Brandon Presley issued a dissenting opinion, saying that “re-opening the docket is appropriate.” 

Equally striking, the Commission refused to hear evidence that plummeting natural gas prices have rendered Kemper an even worse deal for the ratepayer.  The Sierra Club had presented the Commission with expert testimony and evidence that gas prices, now at historic lows, have rendered Kemper a disaster for ratepayers before it is even built. 

In a unanimous 9-0 ruling, the Mississippi Supreme Court revoked Mississippi Power’s permit on March 15, saying that the PSC did not supply sufficient evidence to approve the proposed coal plant project. Since that time, the PSC has violated multiple state laws to protect Mississippi Power’s bottom line at the expense of ratepayers. 

“This decision is just circling the wagons,” said Glen Hooks, Senior Campaign Representative with Sierra Club. “The two Commissioners just went back and tried to figure out how to justify a decision they had already made.  Nobody benefits from this deal but Mississippi Power.” 

In two years since the Kemper County coal plant was initially permitted, the economics of coal and competing energy sources have changed substantially. Natural gas prices have fallen to historic lows, making the Kemper plant even more costly and economically unstable than in 2010. Three weeks ago the Sierra Club submitted extensive evidence and expert testimony to the Commission showing that Kemper has become even worse for the ratepayer since it was approved in 2010, and must be reconsidered.  However, Commissioners Bentz and Posey have consistently refused to listen to any evidence of new developments since the plant was approved in 2010. 

Nationwide, 168 new coal plants have been cancelled since 2001, and 107 plants have been scheduled for retirement. Coal is generating less power for Americans than ever before. Sierra Club continues to call on the Mississippi Public Service Commission to re-open the Kemper County coal plant case, accept new evidence and public comment, and accurately determine whether the plant is a good deal for ratepayers. 

Jenna Garland,Associate Press Secretary, Southeast and South Central,

O: (404) 607-1262 x 222 : (404) 281-6398 

Louie Miller, State Director, Sierra Club Mississippi

601-624-3503 (mobile), louie.miller@sierraclub.org

 _________________________________________________________

Press Release issued by Leonard Bentz following the PSC meeting on Monday approving the Kemper Coal plant AGAIN!  I urge everyone to oblige Bentz and call and write his office to express your extreme displeasure!!—-Tom 

http://media.sunherald.com/smedia/2012/04/24/16/27/3HGMg.So.77.pdf  

Mississippi Public Service Commission 

LEONARD L. BENTZ, COMMISSIONER, 1-800-356-6429 

MEDIA ADVISORY April 24, 2012 , FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

 BENTZ GIVES DETAILS ON FINAL RULING OF KEMPER COUNTY IGCC 

Jackson, Mississippi – Today Commissioner Leonard Bentz, Chairman of the Mississippi Public Service Commission, announced that the Mississippi Public Service Commission has issued its Final Order on Remand regarding the Mississippi Power Kemper County IGCC project. 

The Commission continues to find, based on re-examination of the records in this proceeding, that the Kemper Project is the best overall alternative to meet the identified need, and to provide reliable energy and capacity at a low, stable-fuel price, provided by lignite, for the next several decades. “Fundamentally, the Order today has not changed from the previous Order and decision of the Commission to approve the IGCC Kemper Plant. What we did today was clarify our original decision, as requested by the Supreme Court. They asked us for more detail, and we gave it today,” Bentz said.“If for some reason this plant doesn’t work or does not perform as advertised, the Ratepayer will not be responsible. It is imperative to note, as defined in the Order on page 108, the operational costs and performance parameters assure that the Ratepayers will not pay for an under performing asset,” Bentz said.Any rate impacts projected at this time are purely estimations and are still subject to Commission ratemaking proceedings. That is to say, the rate impacts are what the Company expects or may ask; they are not necessarily the rates that will be approved.  

The estimates filed and expert testimony show, the estimated impact of the Kemper Project on rates WOULD NOT be the 45% that has been erroneously touted by the Sierra Club and others. “Anyone who is quoting a 45% increase is playing with the facts. Early on, the Sierra Club and some media outlets claimed that Kemper would lead to a 45% increase in rates. As stated in the Order, the Commission and legal staff can find no support for that anywhere in the filed documents or record,” Bentz added.  “This information can be found beginning on page 121 of the Order. It is a public document, so anyone can see for themselves.” “The bottom line is that even if Mississippi Power had asked for a rate increase of 45%, there is no way I would have approved it. I am against a 45% increase,” Bentz said. 

Consumers are encouraged to contact Commissioner Leonard Bentz’s office at 1-800-356-6429 for any questions or concerns.  Commissioner Bentz’ office may also be contacted via email to southern.district@psc.state.ms.us 

________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release: April 26, 2012

Contact: Louie Miller, (601) 859-1054,  Robert Wiygul (228) 872-1125

Sierra Club Takes Latest PSC Flip-Flop To Court

Two Commissioners Can’t Really Decide What They Think About Dirty, Expensive, Unnecessary Plant

Jackson, MS – The Sierra Club has appealed the most recent flip-flop by two members of the Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) on the Kemper County power plant.  In a four minute meeting on April 24, Commissioners Leonard Bentz and Lynn Posey again refused to allow the public or opponents of the plant to speak, and without explanation reversed key findings of their original April and May 2010 orders approving the $2.8 billion dollar power plant.

In the April 24 order, key portions of which were drafted by Mississippi Power for the Commission, Bentz and Posey reversed their previous findings and stated that the plant is in the public interest, even if it costs the ratepayers more than Mississippi Power’s estimates.  While the Commissioners did keep the $2.88 billion dollar cap, they stated that it was not required by law, leaving the door open for Mississippi Power to try to bypass the cap later.

“There is really no choice but to appeal the latest flip flop,” said Louie Miller, State Director of the Mississippi Sierra Club. “Bentz and Posey’s latest decision basically parrots everything Mississippi Power says.  The Kemper plant is already a financial disaster for the ratepayer, and these two just won’t admit it.”

In April 2010 all of the members of the Commission voted unanimously that the Kemper plant as proposed by Mississippi Power could not be approved because it was too risky for ratepayers. Commissioners Bentz and Posey, however, said that the project could proceed if it did not cost more than $2.4 billion.   Less than a month later, and without explanation, Bentz and Posey voted to allow Mississippi Power another $480 million in cost overruns. Sierra Club challenged this decision, and the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Sierra Club in a March 15 decision.

Commissioners Bentz and Posey also refused to hear any evidence that the Kemper project is turning into an even bigger disaster for ratepayers, as natural gas prices reach historic lows.  

The Sierra Club had presented the Commission with expert testimony and evidence that gas prices, now at historic lows, have rendered Kemper a disaster for ratepayers before it is built.  Bentz and Posey have consistently refused to consider whether Kemper still makes sense.

In the latest court filing Sierra Club has asked the court to let Mississippi Power assume the risk of building the plant while the appeal proceeds.  “If Mississippi Power thinks it is such a good idea to build this boondoggle,” said Robert Wiygul, the attorney filing the appeal on behalf of the Sierra Club, “the company should take the risk and build the plant on its own nickel.  Instead, Mississippi Power wants the citizens of the coast to take all the risk.”

Nationwide, 168 new coal plants have been cancelled since 2001, and 107 plants have been scheduled for retirement. Coal is generating less power for Americans than ever before. Sierra Club continues to call on the Mississippi Public Service Commission to re-open the Kemper County coal plant case, accept new evidence and public comment, and accurately determine whether the plant is a good deal for ratepayers.

Note: Commissioner Brandon Presley’s Dissent Order can be found here.

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One response to “BREAKING NEWS: MIssissippi Power Continues its Boondoggle and Scam with Kemper Coal

  1. as an unamed vendor to the Mississippi Power group on this site I can say we have been strong armed by them over issues that they were at fault with. We were told if we would like to keep doing business there we would shut up and realize who they were. Also don’t forget, the main contractor on this is Brassfield Gorrie. We have had major issues with them as well. Too much power in their hands if you ask me. Also just an FYI, there is a push to have MIssissippi based businesses get first crack at everything there. It’s fat cats feeding their own. Out there the Good Ole Boy network is alive and well.

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