Posted by Thomas Baldwin, Biloxi, MS
This is an update to my blog of November 2012, thanks to this new post from the Miss. Sierra Club and Louie Miller. It’s the culmination of a disastrous mistake by the Southern Co. , Miss. Power and Miss. government, specifically the Governor’s Office under former governor Haley Barbour. Ultimately the Public Service Commission yielded to his demands and was recently found guilty by the Miss. Supreme Court of violating the law.—-Thomas O. Baldwin, Ph.D March 7, 2015.
THANK YOU HALEY BARBOUR, OUR “BELOVED” EX GOVERNOR
The Kemper County energy facility, is an electrical generating station currently under construction in Kemper County, Mississippi. Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company. Haley Barbour was/is an active lobbyist for the Kemper Plant which was undersold on the cost.
- Mississippi Power has told its customers to expect a rate increase of up to 40 percent if a Mississippi Supreme Court ruling stands.
The court ruled last month that an 18 percent rate increase to pay for its Kemper Plant, which is costing billions of dollars more than first estimated, was improperly granted. The court ordered Mississippi Power to refund money collected under that rate increase. But, before that happens, the company plans to ask the court for a rehearing, a spokesman said.
It has until next week to file for that, said spokesman Jeff Shepard. He said he had no idea how long it would be before a final decision is made and if the ruling stands how long it would be before customers received refunds.
Last may, as more money was needed for the Kemper project, Barbour was still pushing for it:
- Land acquisition started in 2006. By 2010, the cost had risen to $3.1 billion. By 2013, the cost was up to $5.2 billion.Former Gov. Haley Barbour still supports the plant.
“I think this is good for Mississippi because hundreds of millions of dollars in lignite will be sold to the plant and the money will go to Mississippians. Two billion dollars of CO2 will be sold to two oil companies they are already contracted for,” Barbour said.
The follwing is a press release from 2012 which reveals a bit of the Haley Barbour connection to the plant.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 10, 2012
Contact: Louie Miller, email@example.com, (601) 859-1054, Cell: (601) 624-3503
Haley Barbour Fails to Disclose Lobbying Ties to Southern Company, Kemper Plant
New Sierra Club Report Details Barbour’s Lobbying Gains
JACKSON, MS – A new report from the Mississippi Sierra Club has revealed that former Governor Haley Barbour has failed to disclose his financial ties to corporate giant Southern Company, parent company of Mississippi Power (MPCO). In recent public statements the former Governor has lent his support to the experimental and controversial Kemper County Coal Plant. Two weeks after his term as Governor ended in January 2012, Barbour rejoined his Washington, D.C., lobbying firm, Barbour, Griffith, and Rogers (BGR), and resumed actively lobbying for Southern Company again. According to filings with the United States Senate Office of Public Records, the company has already paid Barbour $150,000 dollars in 2012. Barbour founded BGR in 1998.
Further inquiry showed that Barbour’s son, Haley Reeves Barbour, Jr., was listed as a lobbyist in 2011 for Southern Company when his father still held the office of the Governor of Mississippi. Southern Company paid BGR Group $200,000 dollars for lobbying services in 2011 and $2.6 million total since hiring the firm in 1999.1
“Governor Barbour should admit that he is on Southern Company’s payroll while he is out publicly trying to blame the Sierra Club for the failure of the Kemper project,” stated Louie Miller, State Director of the Mississippi Sierra Club. “From 2008 to 2012, the years that Kemper has been on the front burner, BGR Group has received almost $1 million doing the bidding of Mississippi Power and Southern Company. Funny how the Governor forgot to mention this in his recent Op-Ed and public statements attacking the Sierra Club.”
Barbour’s attacks on Sierra Club, and his vigorous, fact-free defense of the Kemper plant have recently appeared in almost every state newspaper, apparently in response to the massive budget troubles encountered by the Kemper plant.
Recent Independent Monitor reports of the Kemper project found that Kemper is $400 million over budget and rising, and only 41% complete. With current capped costs of $2.88 Billion and uncapped costs of $744 Million, Kemper’s current price tag to state tax payers and Mississippi Power customers is $3.62 Billion.2
“The reality is that Mississippi families and businesses – not MPCO – will be forced to shell out billions to pay for a plant that is already hundreds of millions over budget and is not guaranteed to work on day one.3 Once Mississippians start to pay, they will be paying for 40 years, even with vastly cheaper and cleaner energy options are available,” added Miller.
The Mississippi Sierra Club will continue working to protect Mississippi families and businesses from the Kemper boondoggle.
View the Report Online:
- Center for Responsive Politics,http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/summ.php?disp=I, 11/27/2012
- URS Independent Monitor Report; September 2012
- Mississippi Power Vice-President Testimony, Mississippi Public Service Commission Hearing, 6/22/2012
Ex Governor Haley Barbour’s “Love Affair” With the Mississippi Power Co.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org