Power’s High Cost Will Cost Coast Jobs

Power’s High Cost Will Cost Coast Jobs

The FACT is, higher energy prices will cost jobs in Mississippi.   Mississippi power and Southern Company often state how many jobs are being brought due to the construction of the Kemper county demonstration CO2 capturing experiment.  Construction jobs are temporary, right?  Oh, but Mississippi Power Co does promise to bring over 200 permanent jobs.  Well, La-dee-da.  Tell that to the thousands losing their jobs and businesses.  This plant is going to HURT Mississippi and America.  I am surprised we don’t hear more from those who are about to lose their jobs starting 2012.  Perhaps they think it won’t happen to them or that they will live on unemployment?  Perhaps they will lose their homes and commit crimes to make ends meet?  Or perhaps the flooding of desperate men seeking work will bring salaries down as cheaper workers replace the established ones.  I hope these scenarios are incorrect but it does seem probable.

(Source: The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.))trackingBy Mary Perez, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.

Feb. 8–The Public Service Commission knows this week he has to sign off on a fuel-cost adjustment requested by Mississippi Power and he knows it will mean job losses in South Mississippi.

“I believe I’ve had every single casino call me,” said Bentz, chairman of the Mississippi Public Service Commission. He said they’ve told him, “The fuel-price increase is going to make us have to lay people off.”

Mississippi Power has requested a 9.2 percent increase for residential customers. The increase is higher for commercial and industrial customers because fuel costs make up a larger portion of their bills.

For Northrop Grumman it could mean an increase of $2 million this year. Beau Rivage Resort and Casino faces a $700,000 to $800,000 increase and Island View Casino around $300,000.

“Those are just some of the numbers we are hearing,” said Bentz.

He tells everyone who calls him about the increase, “If you have an idea, please give it to me.”

Bentz said, “I should have signed that order two months ago. I’ve not allowed them to put the new fuel prices in place yet.”

Business owners knew the increase was coming. In July and August representatives from Mississippi Power gave all major business customers an estimate of the increase, said company spokeswoman Cindy Webb. In November, when the utility filed for the fuel-cost adjustment, representatives went back and gave the businesses specific costs.

“It’s our annual true-up on fuel,” said Webb. It’s not the largest annual fuel adjustment. That was 10 percent in 2006. In 2008 Mississippi Power customers paid a 4 percent fuel-adjustment increase, and Webb said there were decreases in 2002 and 2003.

“It depends on the fuel markets,” she said.

Mississippi Power Company hasn’t had public hearings on fuel increases, but Bentz scheduled one for Dec. 29 in Gulfport. Only a handful of residents and business owners attended.

“It was not the best time in the world to have a hearing,” Bentz said, “but I wanted to have a public hearing anyway.” He said at the meeting the dollar-for-dollar “pass-through,” in a regulated market such as Mississippi’s, allows the utility to pass on the cost of doing business to the customer. If the company spends $100 million on fuel and is allowed a rate of return of 10 percent, the company can bill the customers for the additional $10 million.

“Mississippi Power Company can only earn what the state regulators allow them to earn,” Bentz said.

Mississippi Power uses coal and gas to operate its power plants.

Although prices are dropping now, “coal prices are still up and transportation prices are still high,” said Webb.

Mississippi Power CEO Anthony Topazi said gas was up 100 percent in 2008 and coal was at an all-time high.

“I’m spending more to provide the same amount of energy,” he said.

When the prices were steadily climbing last year, the company negotiated multi-year contracts on the futures market to lock in the cost and be assured a supply of coal and gas.

“It’s a great deal when you lock that contract price in and the prices skyrocket,” said Bentz.” It’s a horrible deal when you lock that price in and the prices go down,” as they did in this case.

Bentz said he doesn’t have the staff or the $1 million it would take to do an audit to see if the utility paid the lowest price possible for fuel.

“There needs to be a disincentive, or some type of incentive to the power company for purchasing fuel the cheapest they possibly can do it,” he said.

It won’t be just the customers who feel the pinch. Bentz said, “I told Anthony (Topazi) the other day, ‘Y’all need to put these planes on the ground,'” referring to corporate aircraft.

Bentz added, “Profit margins are not going to be what they were in the good years,” and he said, “I don’t believe bonuses are going to be paid to the amount that they’ve been paid.”

Webb said Mississippi Power has a hiring freeze and, “we are doing everything we can to control costs. We’re looking at the things we can do that won’t impact customer service.”

If Bentz doesn’t sign the increase, he said, the Mississippi Supreme Court would most likely overturn that decision and grant it anyway, as the court has done in the past.

He can amortize the increase over 12 months or possibly two years. “When you do that, it’s just like putting it on a credit card,” he said, with the customers paying the carrying costs.

“It’s a crap shoot,” he said. “If prices keep going down it’s a great thing. But if they keep going up, you’re just compounding costs on top of each other.”

—–

To see more of The Sun Herald, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.sunherald.com.

Copyright (c) 2009, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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About Mississippi Coal
Welcome! It is an honor to have a moment of your day. We are in favor of all forms of energy. We care about the future of this great Nation and seek to expose the corruption behind the Kemper County CO2 capturing experimental Lignite coal Demonstration unit. Our Chief complaint is that the rate payers pay for it in their electric bills. The CO2 capturing does not produce electricity so therefore serves no purpose for the ratepayers. It is a money scam for Mississippi power and Southern Company. Mississippi is first in following the (United Nation's Agenda 21) Kyoto Protocols for the regulation of carbon dioxide, a gas we breathe out of our lungs, by forcing the people to pay for it through energy bills and taxes. Through the process of investigating the Kemper County Coal Plant issue, we feel criminal acts have been committed and that soon FCC violations will be added to the offenses. People are being lied to, deceived, or misled and therefore are fully cooperating with this Lignite experiment. "This blog or any content may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of political pathways, Constitutional infringements, democracy, science, and other issues. This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is compiled and distributed without profit. This blog does not always agree with certain personal views or agendas of the published authors, but we will overlook such views many times in order to present facts, conclusions, and connections for knowledge or clarification. We hope you gain from this critical subject matter of the article/op-ed."

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