PSC COMMISSIONER PRESLEY SLAMS MISS. POWER CO.

http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2013306040017  FROM THE CLARION LEDGER.COM

But project, he says, ‘past point of no return’

Jun. 3, 2013   4 Comments 

Written by Geoff Pender
  • Brandon Presley, Public Service Commissioner

Brandon Pressley 

 Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley on Monday blasted Mississippi Power’s embattled and over-budget Kemper County coal plant, but noted the $4.3 billion project is “past the point of no return” and “too big to fail.” 

The decision has been made, and the train is on the track,” Northern District Commissioner Presley said. “I feel for those 185,000 customers on the Coast that are going to have to pay for this. Let’s hope it works.”

Presley spoke at the Stennis Institute of Government’s monthly press luncheon on Monday. Presley has often been the lone dissenting vote on the three-member commission as it has granted various approval for the “clean-coal” plant the company is building in Kemper County. The company had originally pledged to build the plant — much of which rate payers will finance — for $2.4 billion.

This is the greatest transfer of wealth from customers to a monopoly in the history of the state of Mississippi,” Presley said. “Where are all these so-called conservatives on that?”

The PSC this year approved a 15 percent rate increase for Mississippi Power customers to finance the plant, to be followed by a 3 percent increase next year. The company is expected to seek another 2 percent to 4 percent increase later.

Last month saw the abrupt departure of Mississippi Power’s president and a vice president shortly after the PSC learned documents about cost overruns were withheld. The company announced it was another $540 million over budget, but said shareholders of its parent, Southern Co. would cover those costs.

The state Legislature this year approved a bill allowing Mississippi Power to sell up to $1 billion in bonds for overruns.

Mississippi Power spokesman Jeff Shepard, in a written statement on Monday said: “Mississippi Power believes the Kemper County energy facility remains the best option to ensure clean, safe, reliable energy for our customers at a stable price for decades to come. … the company had a specific need for an additional baseload unit — a plant that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. … The project is a massive pioneer effort on the cutting edge of technology and is expected to offer significant long-term benefits to customers. We have worked hard to minimize the rate impact to our customers and we will continue to work with the PSC and provide any and all information they request as we continue the construction of this state-of-the-art facility.”

(Page 2 of 2) 

Presley said he is unchanged in his belief that the plant was too ambitious for the company, and the technology untried. But power company and other state officials have said Mississippi Power needs to diversify its sources of energy and not be too dependent on natural gas.

Duke Energy is building a similar plant in Indiana. That plant, too, has seen delays and cost overruns, inflating its price from $1.9 billion to $3.5 billion, part of which ratepayers will cover with their utility bills.

Presley said that early on, former Gov. Haley Barbour, Gov. Phil Bryant and other conservative state leaders lobbied hard for approval of the plant.

Elected officials were saying, ‘Please pass this plant,’” Presley said. “But then they’ve been lockjawed and mute on the impact it’s having on the family budget and the small business budget. … I am just blown away by so-called conservative groups saying it’s OK to raise people’s utility rates. If there was a 20-percent increase in property taxes, they would be marching in the streets.

What’s awful and outrageous is a senior citizen on the Coast having to split a pill in half so they can pay their power bill,” Presley said. “This is an area already hit by Katrina and the BP oil spill.”

They want their monopoly status, but don’t want any, any, any responsibility to the rate-paying public … If this was such a wonderful idea, why didn’t they go to Wall Street and get the money instead of asking little old ladies and small businesses to put up the money?”

 

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Cororate Fascism in MS: Cost of Kemper power plant keeps growing

biloxi-lighthouse-stamp-25This  is a very important article by Wyatt Emmerich, publisher and owner of Emmerich Newspapers and the Northside Sun.  Louie Miller of the State Sierra Club had first distributed this via email but I just found this version in print with the Delta Democrat Times.  Emmerich has been consistently one of our best allies in presenting the truth.  Isn’t that a contrast we get from our local corporate press, the Sun Herald?  I wonder if the fact that they continually yield to Miss. Power has anything to do with it??  hahahahaha–Thomas Baldwin.

 
 
FROM THE DELTA DEMOCRAT TIMES—4-21-2013
Cost of Kemper power plant keeps growing
 
Wyatt EmmerichWyatt Emmerich
Greg Campbell

Wyatt Emmerich

Greg Campbell
Wyatt Emmerich
Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013 12:00 am
While Mississippi Power was building the $4 billion Kemper coal plant, Entergy bought a natural gas plant for $250 million — one twelfth the cost per kilowatt.
 
Last year, South Mississippi Electric Power Association purchased an 837 megawatt 12-year-old gas plant in Batesville for $286 million. Per kilowatt, the Kemper plant is 19 times more expensive than the Batesville gas plant.
Natural gas plants are proven technology. The Kemper lignite gasification plant uses a new technology that has never been applied on a commercial scale.
 
Mississippi Power and its regulatory agency, the Mississippi Public Service Commission, have made a huge bet that natural gas priceswill rise. So far, the opposite has happened. This bad decision could cost 356,000 households in our state an extra $580 a year on their power bill. If Kemper doesn’t meet its rosy operating projections, the price tag could easily be a thousand dollars per household per year.
 
According to its 2011 annual report, Mississippi Power has 3.2 gigawatts, of generating capacity without Kemper. The average daily need is 1.7 gigawatts and the all-time peak is 2.9. In addition, Mississippi Power can always buy electricity from other power plants for less than it costs to produce from its own plants. So why was Kemper needed?  Mississippi Power states in its annual report that its old coal plants can be retrofitted with scrubbers for $330 million and be EPA compliant. Why not do that instead?
 
MP officials are predicting Kemper will only cost $20 million a year to operate because sales of CO2, ammonia and other by-products will offset operating costs.Two problems here: The rosy forecasts of by-product sales could fail to materialize. And the operating and maintenance costs could well be far in excess of forecasts.For instance, MP projects $27 million a year in maintenance for a plant that cost $4 billion. That’s about half of one percent of the cost of the plant. Not likely for the 40-year life of the plant.
 
From 1990 through 2004, natural gas prices averaged around three dollars. From 2005 to 2008 gas prices suddenly spiked to eight dollars. At that price, the Kemper lignite plant could possibly be competitive with gas. In 2009, natural gas prices dropped back down to historical levels and have stayed there. With fracking, cheap natural gas is projected for years to come.
 
Dozens of coal projects were shelved when the price of natural gas dropped in 2009. The four billion dollar question is why the Kemper plant proceeded with construction — despite the fact that its authorization was under appeal.
As it turns out, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in 2011 against Kemper, throwing Kemper, the PSC and Mississippi Power into disarray. The high court said Kemper’s construction was not supported by “substantial evidence” and remanded its approval back to the PSC.
 
This was a problem. The plant was already under construction. Over a billion had been spent.  What was the rush? Kemper could have been altered to burn natural gas and the coal gasification could have been added later if gas prices did indeed double.Or Southern, Mississippi Power’s parent, could have paid for the chemical plant and kept the by-product sales, leaving Mississippians to pay for the only thing they want — affordable electricity. Southern had $2.35 billion in profit last year.
 
Southern will not release its forecasts of natural gas prices. It’s a trade secret, they say.  Experts are predicting low gas prices for years to come. Even if gas prices double in 10 years, losses in the meantime will make it hard for Kemper to ever break even.
 
Entergy customers pay about a third less for electricity than Mississippi Power customers. And that was before the recent 22.69 percent rate hike approved last month by the PSC to fund Kemper.(Press releases touted the increase as only 12 percent, but my calculations were confirmed by company officials.)
 
Here’s the reality: The bigger the project, the more money Southern makes because they get a guaranteed return on their investment of about 10 percent.
There are huge cost overruns. Three hundred Mississippi contractors are involved, including Mississippi’s Yates Construction as the recently-fired general contractor. Kemper has grown from $1.8 billion to $3.9 billion and rising. The independent auditor for the project concluded in November that Southern “is not utilizing some basic project management and project control tools and techniques that are available and customarily used in the industry for a project of this magnitude.”
 
There is something wrong when millions of Southern Company stockholders can benefit by foisting an experimental technology on the poorest state in the country.
 
That’s why we have a Public Service Commission — to protect the public against the power company’s monopoly. Democrat Brandon Presley voted against Kemper because he didn’t think the technology would work. Such a disaster could cost Mississippi $300 million a year. It would be the beef plant times 80.
 
The other two commissioners, Lynn Posey and Leonard Bentz, Republicans, have supported Kemper lock step. Bentz was appointed by Haley Barbour, whose lobbying firm has received $2.6 million in payments from Southern Company. Getting the picture?
 
At Southern’s annual stockholders meeting, an investment firm raised the issue of political transparency. Southern does not disclose the recipients of its lobbying and political payments. It is in the tens of millions, perhaps more. New U.S. Supreme Court rulings allow companies to contribute an unlimited amount to whomever they please — even a company that depends on public officials for its profitability. For Southern, it has been money well spent.
There has yet to be a final prudency hearing on Kemper. That means it’s not too late for the Mississippi PSC or even the Mississippi Supreme Court to exit this bad deal. Unfortunately, that would require a change of heart of two PSC commissioners.
 
The defense of Kemper by Bentz and Posey rests on one concept — diversification of energy. They fear the volatility of natural gas.
 
There are three problems with this analysis: First, Mississippi Power is already diversified. Forty percent of its power comes from coal already, without Kemper. Second, volatility means natural gas prices can go down, as well as up. Placing a $4 billion dollar bet either way is extremely risky. Third, Bentz and Posey have bet on the wrong side. Gas prices have dropped like a rock and are forecast to remain low for many years to come.
 
Posey and Bentz said Kemper will last 40 years and who knows what will happen over that length of time. Indeed, who knows? That’s why Kemper was profoundly imprudent. It’s time for the PSC to admit it and take remedial action. If not, the Mississippi Supreme Court should do it for them.
 
Wyatt Emmerich is the owner of Emmerich Newspapers.

Reed says GOP officials ‘duped’ by MPC

biloxi-lighthouse-stamp-25This is a very significant publication and should show everyone that the issue with Miss. Power,the Southern Co. and the infamous MS Public Service Commission led by Leonard Bentz is not a political partisan issue.  It is about blatant corporate fascism in the State of MS and it will destroy us soon if we don’t vehemently oppose it.–Tom

http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dl/article?AID=/201304120100/OPINION/304120012

  • Reed says GOP officials ‘duped’ by MPC

Apr. 11, 2013 2:55 PM   |  

0 Comments
Written by
Bill Minor
  • FILED UNDER

You’d hardly expect to hear a diehard Reagan-era Mississippi Republican sharply criticizing a big utility company for building a costly, unneeded — and experimental — generating plant with endorsement from state GOP leadership.

Well, it has happened. Clarke Reed, of Greenville, pioneer of the state’s modern GOP, has spoken out against the controversial $4 billion lignite-fueled plant being built by Mississippi Power Company in Kemper County. MPC is the subsidiary of the Georgia-based Southern Company.

Reed, 84, both in an interview with Bigger Pie Forum the conservative economic advocacy group, as well as this writer, has broadly implied that not only former Gov. Haley Barbour but the state’s current elected Republican leadership were “duped” by the utility monopoly into throwing their support behind the Kemper plant.

Reed was outraged that the Kemper project would become the “signature” legislation of the first Republican-controlled state executive branch since Reconstruction. “It proves Republicans are for millionaires and don’t give a damn about the state,” Reed told BPF, adding “I think it is a political issue that could be used against us for years.”

The Kemper plant marks the first attempt to use lignite, a soft peat-like form of coal with low combustible quality that underlies a broad area of east-central Mississippi, in the generation of electricity. Using a large volume of water, it is to be converted into synthetic natural gas to fire generators.

Reed asks the same question that many outspoken Kemper critics have asked: “Why spend $4 billion to build a lignite-fueled power plant when you could build a natural gas plant for $800 million? It’s totally foolish. We’re going to have more natural gas down here than we’ll ever need.” The Greenville businessman added the argument of lignite proponents that natural gas is more expensive to use has been demolished by new technology to extract the gas from shale formations which he called a “game changer … there’s no way natural gas (price) is going to spike up.”

The longtime state Republican leader would not specifically embrace the term “conflict of interest” that Barbour is a staunch advocate for building the Kemper plant while the Southern Company is a client of Barbour’s Washington, D.C., lobbying firm. Reed, who was influential in launching Barbour’s rise in national GOP politics as a legislative aide in the Reagan White House, said he didn’t believe the former governor saw the Southern Company connection as a conflict. But he did not exclude Barbour in saying “how could our elected officials have been duped into this thing.”

Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, a Democrat, waged a lonely three-year battle on the commission trying to block Mississippi Power’s Kemper plant scheme. Presley has charged MPC’s making ratepayers bear the cost during the plant’s construction amounts “corporate socialism.”

Ironically, now a founding father of the modern Mississippi GOP has arrived at practically the same conclusion about the Kemper plant. Reed, who is still recovering from a near-fatal automobile collision several months ago, contended that Southern Company “bought” Mississippi’s government, by investing $5 million on lobbyists and getting a $4 billion return. “Where could they get a better return than that?”

The gray-maned Republican warhorse charged that “people are going to wake up at some point and see what happened.” Reed added that GOP political opponents will begin to say “When those Republicans came in — those conservatives that we thought were going to do everything right — look what we got out of it.” He concluded: “We ought to be thrown out.”

Page

Contact Bill Minor through Ed Inman at edinman@earthlink.net.

 

“CLEAN COAL” IS A SCI-FI WET DREAM OF DESPERATE ELECTRICAL UTILITIES

Clean coal image 1--schoolsBy Thomas Baldwin, Biloxi, MS

March 18, 2013

This is a brief paper which summarizes some of what has been reported on the technology associated with IGCC (coal gasification) power plants around the world.  As everyone may not recognize, the Kemper Coal Plant in Mississippi utilizes the latest technology to build a power plant to generate over 500 Megawatts of electricity. As power plants go, this is not a huge plant by generation standards.but it does represent a huge expense imposed on the citizenry of Mississippi to pay for this impending debacle. Although I will focus on the probability here of success, I will also comment on the financial aspects later.  I will leave the environmental aspects of this experiment for others who know much more than I do about this particular project.  I want to keep it as simple as I can!

Although the illustrious “genius” and the chairman of the three members of our MS Public Service Commission, Leonard Bentz, has maintained this technology has been “thoroughly tested”, I contend that he is does not even understand this project and merely a stooge for Miss. Power and its parent, the Southern Co.of GA.  I don’t believe he understands anything about the technology or anything about the risks and potential hardships involved for the citizenry/ratepayers of Mississippi.  He actually publicly scolded us in the most recent PSC hearing he chaired in Jackson to grant Miss. Power rate increases to pay for this boondoggle and ultimate debacle. He accused all of us for putting out false information.  Thus, he immediately showed his lack of understanding and disrespect in an afternoon session of the cost implications.  As Forrest Gump told us:  “Stupid is as stupid does.”  Mr. Bentz should watch the movie “Forrest Gump” again.

So let us explore briefly the record of “clean coal” technology to generate electrical power.  I will include my sources here for you to read but frankly it ain’t rocket science to understand the scam and atrocity being imposed on us in the State of MS.  So I will attempt to summarize as best I can.

THE HISTORY AND RECORD OF IGCC (COAL GASIFICATION) PLANTS

There are numerous sources here which you can easily explore yourself just by searching (Google).  I will present a few of those here and present excerpts from those articles.  This is about the plant that the Southern Co. (yes the parent of Miss.  Power!) is attempting to build in China!  I will add to that the experience of Duke Power in Indiana.  Oh how wonderful this “web” of progress, huh?

Some Recent History

This source now is nearly a year old but is still significant.  Read this message!!

“GreenGen and the handful of other IGCC coal plants in various stages of construction worldwide—including another plant in China and two in the United States—are the sole survivors among dozens of IGCC projects proposed and shelved over the past decade. Most fell by the wayside only in the past few years. A push for carbon legislation in the United States collapsed, as did the 2009 climate treaty negotiations held in Copenhagen. Without such measures, utilities have no incentive to invest in carbon capture. Over the same period, coal progressively lost its status as the cheapest fuel for power generation, as hydraulic fracturing operations flooded the natural gas market and slashed gas prices.


The resulting IGCC casualties include even FutureGen, the flagship project in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Coal program and the inspiration for GreenGen. The Bush administration killed FutureGen in 2008 amid rising costs. The project may return under President Obama but as a test of a simpler but even less-proven low-carbon coal scheme known as oxyfuel combustion.”

Source:  The above is from a source entitled:  China’s first coal gasification power plant opened in Tianjin.  http://www.whatsontianjin.com/news-3524-china-s-first-coal-gasification-power-plant-opened-in-tianjin.html

I don’t want to overload with you with data or information here.  Just some facts, mam and gents. This little 3 billion dollar plant that Miss. Power and the Southern Co. of GA are building in Kemper County represent an enormous risk and potential disaster and the citizenry of MS are being asked to assume all of the risks by their corrupted state government. 

Let’s look at another specific example in the U.S.   The Edwardsport, Indiana, IGCC plant by Duke Energy was begun in 2007.  I can’t determine whether it is running yet but I believe the cost overruns were almost exactly what is being projected for Kemper, about one billion dollars. It’s not clear whether it is even operational or not.  Here’s a report on that from  the latest one I could find and here are some excerpts:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwardsport_Power_Stationhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwardsport_Power_Station 

IGCC units

“In 2007, Duke Energy Indiana began construction of a 618 megawatt (MW) integrated gasification combined cycle power plant. This plant was to be the first of its kind of its size. The gasification process at the new plant involves converting coal into a combustible syngas that will be used in a combustion turbine. The exhaust gases are routed through a large heat recovery steam generator that will be used in conjunction with a steam turbine to further increase the plant’s efficiency.The new plant is slated to be a base-load station. The construction of the plant has reserved the necessary space required for carbon capture and storage if Duke Energy decides to add this component to the plant at a later date.[2] However, when the plant was originally planned, it was thought the site was ready for carbon injection. After conducting further research, it was determined that the site is actually not geologically suitable for underground storage of carbon. Instead, Duke Energy Indiana would need to seek approval to construct a pipeline to transport carbon to a more suitable site.

Edwardsport’s pollution per unit of energy produced will be greatly reduced, as particulate matter and mercury will be removed from the syngas. The coal-derived synthetic gas is much cleaner than conventional coal combustion to begin with, and it is easier to clean to greater extent. Coal gasification allows carbon capture to occur before the fuel is combusted — a much easier and economically feasible operation than carbon capture of exhaust gases.

It is expected that Edwardsport IGCC will be online during 2012. 

Cost overruns and controversy

The construction of the Edwardsport IGCC has been clouded in controversy and legal troubles for both Duke Energy Indiana and the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Thus far, the legal issues have resulted in the firing of the second highest ranked executive for Duke Energy, the dismissal of the Chairman of the IURC, David Lott Hardy, and Hardy’s subsequent indictment for three felony counts of official misconduct in cases concerning Duke Energy.[3]

So what are we to believe?  Well certainly not the arrogant attitude of Leonard Bentz, our PSC representative from So. MS.  I can’t put into words that might appear in the press anywhere which would describe my attitude toward this man. And this is only a brief blog which represents much more to come! 

THE FINANCIAL DISASTER

This part has become clear and the MS Sierra Club has done an extraordinary job of bringing this to the forefront.  It is so complicated with a web of political deceit that it is hard to simplify in a paper like this.  But it is analogous on a smaller scale to what the big banks have been doing to us forkemper-coal-take-action-picture hundreds of billions of dollars in the U.S.  Basically these big corporations like the Southern Co. are trying to use their political power to drive the rest of us into total poverty and dependency by gaining control over our political institutions including our Executive and Legislative branches of government. This is the essence of corporate fascism.  And folks, they’re winning their war and especially in MS!

Exhibit:  The Mississippi Power Kemper Plant. 

Kemper was originally proposed as the grand state of the art “clean coal” power plant near Meridian, MS even outside the Miss. Power territory.  When no other state wanted to build it, our former Governor Haley Barbour realized it was a great idea to serve his long term client, the Southern Co., and bring it to Mississippi.  There was about 300 million dollars from the Department of Energy to build a clean coal facility somewhere and Barbour said we’ll do it for you in MS.   The Southern Co, Mr. Barbour and others thought it was a great idea.  But the Southern Co., a large private company  could not get private investments to supplement their plans to do this.  Amazingly there was a bill in the Mississippi legislature in 2008 to allow public utilities like Miss. Power to charge their ratepayers to build a facility (whether it would come online or not) for the construction charges of a commercial private and experimental power plant.  Governor Barbour quickly signed a bill in the state legislature to fund it and guess what happened?  Lo and behold, a Kemper Coal Plant with hundreds of acres of a strip mine in Kemper County was designed.

It was touted as the numerous “jobs” it would produce.  Yes, there were construction jobs for a couple or more years and they were supposed to be for those in MS.  But that has not been the case.  The permanent jobs created were to be about 260 or so and no one knew whether they would be transfers or even new jobs.  But at the costs proposed for this plant, they would represent about 15 million dollars invested for each job with the “left overs” going to Miss. Power.  Not bad, huh?  Then there is the  cost for each ratepayer (186,000) expected to pay for this monster.  That’s about 15-20 thousand dollars a piece.

But of course, Mr Bentz, our PSC Commissioner was obviously not good in math either.  He has continuously touted what a great service he did by just authorizing Miss. Power to allow it’s first step in increasing rates for electricity by 12% followed by an additional rate increase of 3% within a year.  And this does not even include the rate increases which is anticipated by the additional one billion dollar bond issue to pay for cost overruns which could include an additional 5% cost increase in rates.  In other words, within a year, the total cost increase of our electricity in So. MS could be at least 20% or nearly what Miss. Power requested in the first place!

The financial aspects of this picture are a big “duhhhh”.  Never has any alternative like the uses of solar, wind, renewable energy sources, or conservation been considered. This would create many more jobs and represent the future.  But that’s because the Southern Co. under the “leadership” of CEO Tom Fanning,  and Miss. Power under the “leadership” of CEO Ed Day can’t figure out how to make money over “controlling” the energy from the sun. 

Oh my.  Is this what our corporate world which is controlling our government has come to??

**Photos are all from previous publications: Top photo is by Ralph Solonitz.  Others are originals and authorized for use by Thomas Baldwin.

________________________________________________________________

Tom at computer--new 011--cropped (1)About the author:  In approximate terms, Dr. Thomas Baldwin has had a 20 year career as a Physicist (Ph.D.) and a 30 year career as a Management Consultant (MBA).  He is currently retired in Biloxi, MS and looking for work other than just writing blogs like this which is a labor of love!  Have computer; will travel!

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL AT CORPORATE FASCISM! EXHIBIT I—MISSISSIPPI

The 3-4 Billion Dollar Kemper “Clean Coal” Power Plant

By Thomas Baldwin, Biloxi, MS

February 4, 2013

Definition:  Corporate Fascism (or Corporatism) is a term usually attributed to Benito Mussolini in Italy from the 1930’s and is otherwise just described as Fascism. It implies the merger of corporate power with that of the “state” or biloxi-lighthouse-stamp-25the government.  Now we often dismiss that as just “lobbying” but in the past it has also been associated with “bribery.”   In short Fascism is total control of the people by corporate influence which is not in anyone’s benefit except the corporate power. America is becoming a Corporatist nation.

                        PURPOSE OF ESSAY:

It is my purpose to illustrate a specific example of this practice in the State of Mississippi.  This will be just one important illustration of  this subject but will be specific to something which is imminent and critical in the State of Mississippi (MS).  The focus will be the MS Power/Southern Co. Kemper Coal Power Plant.  Though this may seem to be insignificant to many who are not familiar with it, let me put it in perspective.

HISTORY:  First the Kemper Coal Plant was presented as a “Clean Coal”  electricity generating plant at an initial cost of about 2 billion dollars and to represent state of the art technology in converting coal to gas with the purpose of generating electricity.  It would use lignite coal in MS (the lowest heat content, dirtiest coal available) and convert it to gas to drive the turbines and generate electrical power.  It had been tested on a much smaller scale in AL by the Southern Co. with money made available by the federal Department of Energy for those experiments.  When the opportunity to do “clean coal” became available to expand that commercially, the Southern Co. jumped forward and said “let us do it.”  They tried to sell it to the State of Florida but the state said no thanks. Then Governor Barbour of MS stepped up and said “we’ll do it in MS.”  About 300 million dollars in federal funds was made available and the promise of loan guarantees. 

But no private sources wanted to invest in this risky idea with Southern.  So Mr. Barbour, who had been a lobbyist for the Southern Co. prior to his becoming Governor of MS in 2003, said “I’ll arrange for a way to do it.”  A law has just passed in the state legislature in 2008 to allow the Public Service Commission to permit public utilities such as MS Power Co. to charge the entire costs of construction of this monstrosity to the ratepayers in their district whether the plant generated electricity or not!  It is referred to as the “Baseload Act”.  Also the Southern Co. (MS Power’s parent) could benefit from selling their technology all over the world.  Now that’s a sweetheart deal, huh?  The magnitude of this project was much bigger than the sales or assets of MS Power (about a billion) and nearly equivalent to about 60% of the annual budget of the State of MS.

THE SIERRA CLUB INVOLVEMENT: 

The Sierra Club of MS under the able leadership of its director, Louie Miller, attempted to intervene and challenge this scheme almost from the start.  The Sierra Club has been immensely successful in their challenges through the courts, not simply based upon environmental reasons, but from the false representations of the MS Power Co. and the complicity of two of the three members of the Public Service Commission (PSC), Leonard Bentz and Lynn Posey.  The commercialization of the technology had not been proven; it was much more expensive than alternatives; and it would be destructive to the environment.  

But also, the MS Supreme Court in early 2012 by a record 9-0 decision ruled decided that the decision the PSC had made by a 2-1 vote to approve the plant costs from 2.44 billion to 2.88 billion was improper and thus placed the license to continue in doubt.

supreme-court-group-photo-tuepker--2

But MS Power Co. and the PSC have persisted and ignored the MS Supreme Court’s decision and they agreed in a previously unannounced  meeting on January 24, 2013 to approve an agreement which allowed MS Power to proceed with construction and present rate increases to pay for the plant at the limit of 2.44 billion. And MS Power had a plan to pay for the increased

Photo:  Southern MS citizens visit the Supreme Court Hearing on 1/28/13 (by John Tuepker)

costs by presenting legislation to allow for bonds to pay additional cost overruns which were now obvious. Needless to say, their stockholder investors were not about to pay for this!  The MS Supreme Court had scheduled previously a case only four days later on January 28 to consider a challenge to the Constitutionality of the original 2008 Baseload Act bill.  This was the legislative bill which allowed a utility to be able to charge ratepayers for “Work Construction in Progress” which was MS Power’s intent by increasing ratepayers monthly rates.

THE RESPONSE OF MS POWER AND THE PSC:  Simultaneously, on January 21, 2013, there were two identical bills introduced in both branches of the state legislature:  SB2755 and HB1134.  Those copies can be seen at these links and as one can see they are IDENTICAL.

http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2013/pdf/history/SB/SB2755.xml

http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2013/pdf/history/HB/HB1134.xml

They were sponsored by Senator Burton in the Senate and Representative Beckett in the House, chairmen of the Senate Energy and the House Public Utilities committees, respectively.  Would anyone dare to guess who wrote those bills for them?  Would anyone like to guess what they might have been offered to be sole sponsors of  those bills simultaneously and urge quick passage? The purpose of these bills was to offer bonding authority for up to one billion additional dollars to pay for cost overruns which were predicted in the beginning for the Kemper Coal Plant boondoggle and debacle.  Would anyone like to guess why the executives at MS Power and the Southern Co. thought these were important?   Clue:  Their investors and stockholders are not going to be happy if this piece of crap bombs which is highly likely!  The jobs of the CEO and their subordinates of the Southern Co. and the MS Power Co. are on the line.  The fact that they could not get private investors in the beginning should have also been a clue. In effect, the MS Power/Southern Co. are trying to shift all of the risk of this boondoggle to the ratepayers and the taxpayers!

Folks, the MS Power Co./Southern Co. may succeed in their financial efforts in the short term, but they will soon be fully disclosed.  It’s a complicated web of deceit and manipulation by a corporation over a corrupt state government but when examined in detail it’s pretty simple.  It is the essence of corporate fascism which we face all over the country and MS is a great example due to the example set by former Governor Haley Barbour and the fact that we are the poorest state in the nation as well as least informed. 

If many people continue to remain silent about this atrocity, then you should just be ready to put on your high boots and say “Seig Heil” when you pay your electricity bill in Mississippi!!

Postscript–As this blog was about to be published this Letter to the Editor was published in the Sun Herald newspaper:  

Julia O’Neal: Legislators bowing to Southern Company.  

http://www.sunherald.com/2013/02/02/4442683/julia-oneal-legislators-bowing.html#storylink=cpy

And this excellent report on the current status of this fiasco by Eileen O’Grady appeared in the January 31 edition of Reuters.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/31/utilities-southern-kemper-idUSL1N0AZMDT20130131

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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  

Meet Mr. Steven Palazzo, Un-Representative from Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District


Palazz on Sandy vote from TPM Postby Thomas Baldwin, January 9, 2013

Biloxi,  MS

Steven Palazzo’s vote against the first stage in basic aid to Hurricane Sandy’s victims really got to me.  I was outraged as a citizen of Biloxi, MS, his home town and so were many of his constituents.  Although I have significantly different political views this vote really went beyond the bounds of decency and compassion.

As everyone will recall, Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster in U.S. history in 2005 devastated much of New Orleans and the coastline of Mississippi. It may have been twice the size of Sandy. It was met by huge support for recovery by the rest of the nation including public support by the U.S. government and by an enormous generosity of private citizen groups across the country including many from the northern states.  Any of us who lived through this, as Mr. Palazzo certainly did, will clearly recall this.

Most of the people of Mississippi certainly remember and were grateful for the support we received.  Mr. Palazzo’s memory apparently only lasts for as long as his recent election where he was invited again to become a part of the radical right of the Republican Party.  Unfortunately, due to the ineptness of the Democratic Party in the south, particularly Mississippi, there was no legitimate opposition to his reelection.

So when needed and required to give support to another part of the country what does this Jerk do?  He votes “no” because there are no “offsets” for these expenditures.  Yet, he supports a 600 billion dollar defense bill with few if any questions and he supports subsidies to the fossil fuel industry with no questions.  I cannot restrain my feelings in calling these kinds of elected people what they need to be called:  SCUMBAGS.

Let me tell you.  People in different parts of this nation will not forget this.  My friends in NY are outraged as they should be. Christie the Republican Governor of NJ was outraged and Rep. King of NY was outraged, both strong Republicans.   People in northern states are quite aware that they are paying more than their average share into the national treasury to support states like Mississippi who are deriving tremendous benefits from the national government, at least twice what they pay in.  

But the ignorant population of this state keeps voting to bite the hand that feeds them!  And Mr. Palazzo “represents” one of the worst!! He represents only his own special interests and those of his corporate sponsors. I am embarrassed by his vote and wish to apologize for those across the nation, particularly those in the northeast. Mr. Palazzo has decided to “recover” by being appointed for the person by visiting the afflicted areas in NJ and NY for disaster recovery for the Republican Party.  For gosh sakes, he got himself appointed by Eric Cantor, Republican Leader, as the “point person” for disaster recovery in the nation.  What else is a retarded Representative supposed to do?  God help us all with representatives like this!

I am totally embarrassed by his actions and wish to apologize from myself and others from MS for those across the nation, particularly those in the northeast.

Here are the printed articles locally which give strength to my position and you can decide for yourself what you think about Mr. Palazzo’s atrocious behavior:  

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TPM LiveWire

Gulf Coast Lawmaker Votes AgainstSandy Relief

Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), whose Mississippi district is situated on the Gulf Coast, was one of 67 Republicans on Friday to vote against a $9.7 billion relief package to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Mississippi’s Fourth Congressional District, which Palazzo has represented since 2011, includes the city of Biloxi, one of the most heavily damaged communities in the region by Hurricane Katrina. Congress quickly passed an initial $10.5 billion relief package in the immediate aftermath of Katrina in September of 2005. Palazzo’s predecessor, former Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS), supported that legislation.

The Sandy relief legislation passed overwhelmingly on Friday, with the only “no” votes coming from Republican members.

Palazzo’s office did not immediately respond to TPM’s requests for comment.

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Palazzo votes no on $9.7 billion Sandy relief measure

Published: January 4, 2013 Updated 11 hours ago

Says spending cuts should offset cost of hurricane disaster recovery efforts

By ANITA LEE — calee@sunherald.com

U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo said he is working with his staff on legislation to cut spending, and plans to reach out to other congress members for support, so the next bill for Hurricane Sandy relief will include spending cuts to offset the cost.

Palazzo was one of 67 Republican House members Friday to oppose $9.7 billion in funding to cover National Flood Insurance Program losses from Sandy, which passed with 354 votes in support. Another $50.3 billion in disaster relief will be sought later this month.

In a telephone interview Friday evening, Palazzo said he believes the time is right for a national discussion about change in the way America funds disasters, including the debt-ridden National Flood Insurance Plan.

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Palazzo sought millions in Katrina relief for Biloxi Housing Authority

Published: January 6, 2013 Updated 11 hours ago

HURRICANE_KATRINA_14

SUN HERALD FILE PHOTO Ky Hoang walks down an East Biloxi, Miss., street littered with debris from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. As chief financial officer of the Biloxi Housing Authority, Palazzo sought millions in recovery funds from Congress. Now a U.S. representative, Palazzo was one of 67 House Republicans to vote Friday against Sandy funding without spending offsets.

PATRICK SCHNEIDER

BILOXI — U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo says he voted against funding to pay the Hurricane Sandy flood insurance claims because of the deficit, but as the chief financial officer for the Biloxi Public Housing Authority back in 2005, Palazzo asked for federal relief despite the nation’s debt.

The Housing Authority listed $38.5 million in “Total Funds Needed Right Away” in a handout published one month after Katrina devastated 70 miles of Mississippi’s coastline Aug. 29, 2005.

The handout quoted Palazzo, then the authority’s deputy director and chief financial officer: “Tell our national leaders — don’t send more inspectors — we know what’s damaged and how to fix it. Send us money so we can put our families back together and do our part to rebuild our community.”

The handout is still posted on its web site.

Public housing relief in Mississippi eventually totaled $110 million for Mississippi’s three Coastal counties. Harrison County, where Palazzo is from, received $72 million in funding for public housing alone, according to figures compiled in 2010 by the office of former U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, whom Palazzo defeated to take office in 2011 with an anti-Nancy Pelosi message.

Congress poured a total of at least $24.6 billion into direct Mississippi Katrina relief, Sun Herald archives show, in large part because of the efforts of Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, who then headed the Appropriations Committee, and then-Gov. Haley Barbour, former head of the Republican National Committee.

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South Mississippi’s Palazzo says he’ll be ‘point person’ on disaster-relief reform

Published: January 8, 2013 

 Congressman says he’ll be ‘point person’ on disaster-relief reform

By ANITA LEE — calee@sunherald.com

U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo toured areas of the Jersey shore and Staten Island for the first time to view Sandy hurricane damage Tuesday, after the backlash over his vote against funding for the National Flood Insurance Program last week.

Palazzo said he wanted to reassure colleagues in the House he supports disaster aid, to express sympathy on Mississippi’s behalf to those suffering in Sandy’s aftermath, to share lessons learned here from Hurricane Katrina and to continue the discussion on disaster relief reform.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor today encouraged Palazzo to become a “point man on disaster relief reform” as major storms become more frequent and costly, the Mississippi congressman said. Palazzo was recently appointed to the Homeland Security Committee, which oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the agency that manages NFIP.

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Photographs from stories referenced.  Primary photograph from TPM as referenced in report.
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  

 

 

Haley Barbour’s Dirty Money: Lobbying for the Kemper County Coal Plant

I have requested permission from Louie Miller, MS Director of the Sierra Club to distribute this report and been granted permission from Jenna Garland, Press Secretary and author to release it as a blog.  It is entirely consistent with the blog I wrote (Barbour’s Love Affair) , not as a member of the Sierra Club, on Thanksgiving 2012. Please pay attention!!

Thomas Baldwin, Biloxi, MS    12/12/12

Sierra Club Wilderness image

A SPECIAL REPORT FROM THE SIERRA CLUB  

View as web page Sent to . Not you? Sign up here.
Sierra Club Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

December 10, 2012

Contact:  Louie Miller, louie.miller@sierraclub.org, (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: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B1dk6uYv0lc2NDN6T2lQNlR3VWc

  1. Center for Responsive Politics, http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/summ.php?disp=I, 11/27/2012
  2. URS Independent Monitor Report; September 2012
  3. Mississippi Power Vice-President Testimony, Mississippi Public Service Commission Hearing, 6/22/2012

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My blog (Baldwin) on this subject from 11/22/12:  

https://proactvoice.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/ex-governor-haley-barbours-love-affair-with-the-mississippi-power-co/