Consumers Should Not Foot the Bill For Kemper County Plant
October 3, 2011 Leave a comment
Consumers should not foot the bill for Kemper County plant
I learned recently that Liberty Fuels Co. LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of North American Coal Corp. of Bismarck, N.D., has applied for a permit to mine lignite coal in east Mississippi that would be burned at the Kemper County plant.
The application calls for Liberty Fuels to mine two million tons of lignite per year for the Kemper project during the first five-year permit. Thereafter, it would mine 4.1 million tons per year through 2052. The mine would cover 31,000 acres over 40 years, eventually becoming the largest coal mine operation in the state. On Oct. 18, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public hearing in DeKalb to discuss Liberty Fuels’ permit application.
Mississippi Power (a subsidiary of the Southern Co.) President and CEO Ed Day has stated in several recent interviews that he feels the decision to move forward with the Kemper project was a good one, and that the plant is on schedule and on budget. He also confirmed that he expects customers’ rates to increase 30 to 33 percent over the next 10 years as a direct result of the plant.
In the recent court presentation, (Harrison County Chancery Court, Feb. 14) Mississippi Power representatives reported commercial lenders available to the company were not willing to loan funds for the project.
The Southern Co. is one of the largest utility companies in the country. It has over $17 billion in gross sales, and pays a dividend of $4.46 per share on 858 million shares. There is no reason for consumers to pay in advance for the Kemper project.
The fact that Mississippi customers would be forced to pay for the plant’s construction over a three-year period even though they would receive no benefits during that time, and the fact that the process is experimental and without certainty of achieving the desired result, as well as the potential negative impact of the project on the environment, appeared to be of no concern to the Public Service commissars who approved the project.
In my view this project is not only an expensive investment for Mississippi electric power users, but an environmental disaster. The use of lignite for energy generation is not necessary. Most energy experts believe the cleanest fuel for power generation — besides nuclear energy — is natural gas. An assessment of the availability of natural gas made in July 2008 indicated an increase of available U.S. supply by over 30 percent by the mid-2020s.
Bay St. Louis