Alarming Kemper Coal Plant Update 1

Alabama Gets Kemper County Electricity?

Kemper Power Lines may be heading to Alabama

It has been reported by a reliable Kemper Co local source, that the High voltage lines placed to carry the electricity from the Kemper Power plant,  are running exclusively North and EAST!!!!

This is significant since one of MS Public Service Commissioners, Leonard Bentz, assured ratepayers not one KWH would go to Alabama or Arkansas.  It’s looking like the company was built specifically for Alabama and it’s Southern Company.  I will find out the truth because we the people have a right to know what is happening to our state and our nation. IMHO there should be ZERO High Power Lines running to Alabama if Mississippi ratepayers are paying for the plant.  If this is true, it is criminal for Mississippi ratepayers to buy the plant for Alabama and the Southern Company.

What is North needing the other 1/2 electricity produced?

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Mississippi Power Service Man Tells Me…

Met an employee with the Mississippi Power Company today and casually asked him if the Kemper Co Coal Plant will make our electric bills go up. He said, “very little if any and only temporary.”  He then told me who to vote for, the incumbent.  I assure you I will not be voting for a PSC incumbent who voted to bring CAP and Tax to MS.

Jackson Free Press Picks up on the Kemper Related Elections

Why the PSC Race Matters

File Photo

by Adam Lynch
July 27, 2011

Few people attend the monthly meetings of the Mississippi Public Service Commission, outside of utility company officials and their host of attorneys. Generally, when the talk is about electricity, gas or telecommunications, eyes glaze over.

But the Public Service Commission is an essential body of state government charged with overseeing the behavior of the state’s biggest power-producing monopolies. It also makes sure telemarketers adhere to cold-call rules set by federal and state laws, but the monopoly-overseeing bit is the part that dictates how much your monthly power bills go up or down.

Power companies must approach the three-member commission for permission to implement rate increases. Commissioners, who are elected, receive political backlash for allowing those rates to jump up noticeably. It’s a workable relationship, but some new candidates are trying to see how far they can push the most recent backlash.

A majority of the commission voted last year to allow Mississippi Power Co. to charge ratepayers for construction of a $2.88 billion coal-burning plant in Kemper County–after some coaxing by Gov. Haley Barbour. Barbour’s former Washington lobbying firm helped secure some federal money for the project (thus, he arguably benefits from the construction because he receives a income in the form of a blind trust from the firm). But Mississippi Power Co. ratepayers have to fund the brunt of the thing, and commissioners did not release its potential rate increase impact to the public. Nor have they allowed the rate increases, which could end up as a 50 percent increase, to slip into customers’ monthly statements prior to the election.

The two commissioners favoring the construction of the plant, incumbents Leonard Bentz and Lynn Posey, say the coal plant will pave the way to a future of stable or cheap electricity prices because coal is one of the country’s most plentiful energy resources. They say they are not only looking to the state’s long-term future, but that the plant will put Mississippi at the forefront of a carbon-neutral energy revolution. The Sierra Club, an environmentalist group, says the plant’s carbon capture technology is unproven and unreliable.

Only Northern District Democrat Brandon Presley opposed the construction of the plant. Presley screamed into every microphone his reasons for opposing the new plant, and protested the power company’s desire to keep the rate increases private. He was a minority of the board, however.

Candidates are lining up to attack the incumbents for that decision. Republican and self-professed Tea Party candidate Travis Rose said the Kemper County plant decision was his main reason for running against incumbent Bentz.

“As a Tea Party member … the Kemper County decision really upset me,” said the St. Martin resident. “Our elected officials like to claim they’re transparent and accountable. Yet, when I go on their website regarding the Kemper plant I see one press release on Kemper County, and you have to go into their archives to see something from last April with them bragging about it capturing CO2. They don’t tell us about any estimate of what it’s going to do to our utility rates.”

Democratic candidate James M. Buckhaults, a former Ellisville alderman, said he was waiting to take Bentz on in the general election for the same reason. “They decided to go along with the Legislature in making us pay for that thing before they even start building it, which I think is crazy,” he said.

Buckhaults will first have to beat southern commission Democratic candidates Thomas Blanton and Mike Collier before he gets that privilege. Neither Blanton or Collier returned calls.

Republican Lynn Posey faces no opposition from his party; Haley Barbour’s nephew Charles Barbour politely ducked out of the race. Posey adhered to Barbour’s wishes in favoring the Kemper County plant. Posey must contend with Democratic opponents Bruce Burton and Addie Green, and Independent Danny Ayers, however. Burton and Ayers could not be reached, while Green did not return calls by press time.

Presley faces no primary candidate, but is up against either Boyce Adams Jr. or Marvin Cox after the winner survives the Republican primary. A Tea Party of Mississippi founding member, Cox pushes no real issues on his campaign website (http://www.votemarvincox.com), but touts himself as a “Christian Conservative Republican who seeks to provide better access to commissioners and staff.” His website reveals no insight he may have upon PSC business.

Adams, who co-owns with his father a bank software developer BankTEL Systems, has a Vanderbilt University bachelor’s degree in economics and political science. On his website (http://www.boyceadams.com), he says he worked in the George W. Bush White House focusing on presidential appointments to energy regulatory institutions. He plans to “keep energy costs low and maintain reliable energy sources.” He does not say whether he would have voted differently from Presley on any decisions.

Haley Barbour Sends Letters to Pressure Kemper Purchase on Ratepeyers

Commissioners Deny Barbour’s Influence

by Adam Lynch
June 23, 2010

Mississippi Sierra Club Director Louie Miller says that a letter from Gov. Haley Barbour to the Public Service Commission asking it to approve an experimental coal plant in Kemper County may have had an unseemly impact on Public Service Commissioners Leonard Bentz’ and Lynn Posey’s decision to increase the plant’s construction-cost cap by $480 million at the request of Mississippi Power Company.

“It’s not coincidental that the ‘flip flop’ occurred less than 72 hours after Governor Haley Barbour sent a strongly worded letter to the Commissioners insisting the plant get built,” Miller wrote in a statement. “It is also not lost on us that Barbour’s Washington lobby firm, Barbour, Griffith and Rogers, represents Southern Company, the parent company of Mississippi Power, who touted on their website they were responsible for lobbying the (U.S.) Department of Energy to land federal money for Kemper.”

Barbour stated in his May 24 letter that a PSC decision making the construction of the plant impossible would be “an awful, outrageous outcome.”

The Mississippi Sierra Club filed a June 17 lawsuit in Harrison County Chancery Court calling the PSC’s decision to raise the construction-cost cap of the plant by 20 percent “arbitrary and capricious.” The suit challenges the decision by Bentz and Posey to revise the original April 29 PSC decision capping construction expenses of the proposed coal-burning power plant at $2.4 billion.

Under the original decision, the stockholders of Mississippi Power, the company seeking to construct the plant, would have carried any costs above $2.4 billion. MPC complained, however, that they should be able to pass additional costs above $2.4 billion down to their ratepayers, and warned that they could not afford to build the plant if they were not allowed to do so.

When Bentz and Posey revised their decision May 26, they allowed the company to charge ratepayers an additional $480 million, or up to $2.88 billion for the plant—even though MPC did not release to the public the amount of the rate increases customers would shoulder or provide any documentation supporting the rate increase. Under comparable circumstances, Entergy Mississippi customer rates increased about 40 percent after construction of the similarly priced Grand Gulf nuclear reactor in the 1980s.

“The actions of the majority are arbitrary, capricious, beyond legal authority and unsupported by substantial evidence. These actions are contrary to governing statutes. The Commission’s decision granting the certificate and the May 26, 2010, order must be vacated,” the Sierra Club states in its motion.

The organization also demands that the court order the commission to act on an earlier motion that the Sierra Club filed with the PSC to make public how the plant affects rates, and to temporarily suspend the PSC decision allowing construction of the Kemper project pending a decision by the court.

Commissioner Bentz disputed Miller’s argument that Barbour held any power over his personal decision to upgrade the April 29 decision.

“When did the Sierra Club ever support anything that is progressive?” Bentz asked. “They have opposed this plant from the beginning. They talk about us flip-flopping and changing our minds, but that’s incorrect. We never denied the power company the right to build the plant, not in the first order and not in the second order.”

Commissioner Brandon Presley, who voted against both PSC decisions to allow the construction of the plant, said at a June press luncheon and in his May 26 dissent that the PSC had received no new information warranting the increase in the construction cap.

“It seems the only reason the majority changed its mind in this case is because Mississippi Power Company insisted,” Presley wrote in his May 26 dissent.

Bentz argued that MPC still must approach the PSC for approval before charging ratepayers anything more than the original $2.4 billion.

“Louie Miller is an idiot,” Bentz said. “Our decision does not automatically grant MPC a dime more than their original $2.4 billion price. They still have to come back to us if the cost goes beyond that and ask permission for that increase.”

But Presley says, however, that the PSC will undoubtedly approve the additional costs.

“The project costs more than (MPC’s) net worth. As soon as the cost goes north of $2.4 billion and you don’t approve the cost increase, we’ll bankrupt the company,” he said.

Bentz added that he was unaware of any influence from a letter by the governor, and said he was unfamiliar with the letter to which Miller referred. Presley, who said he submitted the letter into public record after receiving the document, said he had been unimpressed with the message. “My position is that if the administration in Washington and the state feels so confident about this plant let them come in and pay for it,” Presley said.

http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/index.php/site/comments/commissioners_deny_barbours_influence_062310/

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