Mississippi Kemper coal Power PSCs Failed to Satisfy State Law Now Will Face More Exposure

The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s ruling that approved construction of Southern Co’s USD 2.8 billion coal gasification project in Kemper County, Mississippi.

In a 9-0 voter, the state supreme court said the Mississippi Public Service Commission’s May 2010 approval of the project failed to satisfy state law and sent the case back to the PSC.

Source – Reuters

(www.steelguru.com)

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Mississippi Power Rates are Decreasing $2 to Keep us Quiet

Is this the eye of the storm?  No, it is a marketing ploy.  Do not be fooled.  Mississippi Power will be utilizing an experimental device on this coal plant that captures carbon dioxide.  This experimental device is for “demonstration” and will use electricity (not able to produce any electricity) and has no benefit to the public.  Yet two of three Public Service Commissioners voted for the ratepayers to pay this unlawful fee.  It is against regulation to charge the ratepayers for something that is not for the public good.

To be lawful and in legal compliance our PSC would have to prove that there is man-made global warming from CO2 that is harmful to the ratepayers and therefore we would befit from it.  Or they would have to prove how ratepayers would financially benefit, and I doubt there is any other possible public benefit to the TRIG .

If you have an idea of a public  benefit to the experiment Transport Integrated Gasification (TRIG™) CO2 capturing device, let me know.   Who will be paying for the electricity utilized to conduct this experimental demonstration?  Mississippi Rate Payers!

JACKSON — State regulators have approved Mississippi Power Co.’s proposed decrease in the amount it recovers in its annual fuel filing.

Mississippi Power’s fuel costs are recovered from customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The company does not earn a profit on the fuel used to generate electricity.

Rate payers should not be paying for the electricity used in a for profit experiment by Southern Company on the backs of taxpayers in the form of tax credits.

Public Service Commission chairman Leonard Bentz says Mississippi Power customers will see an average of $2.20 reduction in their residential electric bills. Average usage is considered 1,000-kilowatt hours.

Bentz says the decrease should show up in utility bills as soon as February 2012.

Mississippi Power, a Southern Company subsidiary, serves approximately 188,000 customers in 23 southeast Mississippi counties.

Leonard Bentz says The whole (Mississippi Power Coal Plant) story is not getting told

Commentary: Big questions for Kemper County coal plant come down to who knew what and when

MBJ Staff

In May of 2010 we wrote, “For better or worse, the economic future for the next 40 years in southeastern Mississippi will be greatly impacted by the decision of Public Service Commissioner Leonard Bentz. ”

Justices with the Mississippi Supreme Court may be asking now how he came to his decision when he changed his vote from no to yes in a rehearing to approve the $2.8-billion Mississippi Power Company Kemper County coal plant.

Bentz and Lynn Posey have been for the project all along while Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley has steadfastly been against Kemper, calling it, among other things, “Corporate Socialism. ”

However, Bentz has had questions before, particularly concerning rate impacts, which Mississippi Power has never fully disclosed.

“The whole story is not getting told,” Bentz told the Mississippi Business Journal prior to the second vote of the PSC. “It is frustrating. I want to build this plant, but I want everybody to know exactly what is going to happen when we build this plant. I have to look Gulf Coast residents in the eye and tell them I did everything I could to get the information on the table. ”

Yet, the entire story has not been told, and Bentz voted for the plant after publicly questioning its validity a year and half ago.

This case is before the Supreme Court because of the Sierra Club, which is trying to stop the construction of the plant already underway near Liberty. Sierra argues that the PSC broke the law by failing to lay out a clear reason for easing financial terms in its second vote.

“I did not see and still do not find anywhere where the commission explained to the court why this was now not too risky,” said Associate Justice Randy “Bubba” Pierce. “I want to know what happened between April 29 and May 26. What additional facts were submitted to the record?”

That’s a great question for Bentz, who is on the record saying, “The whole story is not getting told. ”

There are two more questions that should be asked.

Is the plant needed?

Will it work?

First, the plant is not needed, because Mississippi Power can supply energy to South Mississippi with natural gas, which the MBJ has reported will be less expensive over a 30 year period than the energy supplied at Kemper.

Second, in an editorial board meeting with Mississippi Power executives and its construction experts, they were not completely secure in the ability of the Kemper technology to work.

We asked if they could guarantee the technology would work when they flipped the switch for the first time at Kemper.

The answer, after a long pause, was no.

With that information, how could the PSC vote for, what amounts to, a $2.88 billion tax on the people of South Mississippi for energy that can gotten elsewhere — and for less money?

We suspect Mississippi’s Supreme Court will ask those question when all is said and done, and maybe, just maybe Bentz or someone will tell the rest of the story.

(here)

Mississippi High Court Justices Seek Reasons why PSC Reversed Itself to allow Kemper Co. Coal Plant

JACKSON, Miss. — Three Mississippi Supreme Court justices asked repeatedly Wednesday where the state Public Service Commission laid out its reasoning when it modified its decision to allow the construction of a Kemper County power plant last year.

The Sierra Club is trying to get the Supreme Court to derail the $2.7 billion power plant, now under construction in Kemper County’s Liberty community. The environmental group argues the PSC broke the law by failing to lay out its reasoning clearly when it eased the financial terms under which Mississippi Power Co. could build what it calls Plant Ratcliffe.

A lawyer for Mississippi Power said the commission didn’t have to provide such reasoning, though. He said judges could find reasons to support the decision in the 30,000-plus pages of testimony and records submitted as part of the appeal.

Mississippi Power says rates will go up about 33 percent to pay for the plant. However, Sierra Club lawyer Robert Wiygul told the court Wednesday that confidential documents he has reviewed show rates would rise as much as 45 percent. The Mississippi Business Journal reported the same amount in August 2010, citing documents obtained through a public records request.

A unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co., Mississippi Power would buy lignite mined nearby, turn it into a synthetic gas, and burn the gas, capturing byproducts such as carbon dioxide and selling them. The technology is supposed to allow coal to be burned more cleanly and cut emissions of carbon dioxide, which scientists say contribute to global warming. Mississippi Power says the plant is needed to provide more electricity for its 193,000 customers scattered from Meridian to the Gulf Coast.

The Sierra Club opposes the project, saying that the technology behind the plant is unproven and that it’s undesirable under any circumstances to build new coal mines and new coal-fired power plants. The environmental group says it would be cheaper for Mississippi Power to build a natural gas plant or buy power from independent natural gas generators.

“The law requires the Public Service Commission to choose the cheapest and most reliable technology and power plant,” Louie Miller, executive director of the Mississippi Sierra Club, said at a pre-hearing news conference. “This is neither.”

The PSC originally voted in April 2010 to cap at $2.4 billion the amount that Mississippi Power could charge ratepayers for the plant. The company is also getting about $300 million in federal assistance. Commissioners also said the power company couldn’t charge ratepayers for the plant before it started operation.

Mississippi Power said it couldn’t build under those conditions and asked the PSC to reconsider.  (Previously suggested most corrupt in MS) Lawyer Ben Stone  said Wednesday that it needed wiggle room for cost overruns, and wanted to charge ratepayers early to cut the interest customers would pay on money borrowed for the project.

"Uncle Ben Stone", Haley Barbour, and Steven Palazzo

"Uncle Ben Stone", Haley Barbour, and Steven Palazzo

“We could not go to the financial markets without some relief in both of those areas and finance the plant,” Stone said.

If this scheme had any merit it could have found investors.  With a negative credit score and historical pattern of Lignite Coal plant failure, Investors know Mississippi Power and Southern Company’s Kemper Coal Plant is a money pit with no intention of making money. It will be fined, regulated with fees, and taxed right out of any possible profits.  Among other costs to run problems they will encounter.  The profit comes in when MS power can charge a percent of its overall costs to the ratepayers.  Criminal and truly un-American, isn’t it? 

 A month later, commissioners voted 2-1 to give Mississippi Power what it wanted, raising the cost cap by 20 percent, to $2.88 billion. The commission must still agree that company spending is “prudent” for it to collect any money, even below $2.4 billion. It also allowed Mississippi Power to start charging before the plant’s scheduled start in 2014. Under state law, Mississippi Power can keep the money even if the plant is never completed.

It is not prudent to charge ratepayers for an experimental CO2 capturing mechanism that fails to produce any electricity, and  is founded on global warming science fraud, and a cap-and-trade system not yet in adopted. 

The key issue in Wednesday’s case is not whether the plant is a good idea, but whether the PSC adequately laid out its rationale for what Miller labeled a “flip-flop” by commissioners Leonard Bentz and Lynn Posey, who voted for the amended conditions.

The Sierra Club said the PSC didn’t adequately explain. “That’s going to require some evidence you can see and really get your arms around,” Wiygul said.

He said judges shouldn’t have to pick and choose reasons from the overflow of material submitted with the appeal, and the three justices sitting Wednesday seemed sympathetic to that argument.

“I did not see and still do not find anywhere where the commission explained to the court why this was now not too risky,” said Associate Justice Randy “Bubba” Pierce. “I want to know what happened between April 29 and May 26. What additional facts were submitted to the record?”

Stone said the new facts were contained in Mississippi Power’s motion to reconsider and its post-hearing briefs. “It’s very obvious to us that all those matters are supported,” he told the justices.

More importantly, though, he said the PSC was not required to summarize its reasoning for court review. Stone said that a prior court case says that as long as the court can find the reasoning in the record leading to the decision, the court must let the PSC’s decision stand.

JEFF AMY  Associated Press

Worst Scam is Good Business For Mississippi?

The article below is an example of how the media is used to publicize Kemper Coal plant propaganda. Can anyone hear them saying, “Come into the Gas Chamber for a nice warm shower?”  Lets expose the deceptions.

Kemper Lignite plant has little to do with coal, energy, or Mississippians and much to do with Cap and Tax, promoting Agenda’s of international Governments, and crippling America.  The Southern Co is following the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocols to redistribute the wealth and land.  While Tom Fanning CEO of Southern Co suggests their companies are against bigger expanding regulatory government the truth is he is fully cooperating, volunteering Mississippi to bridge the gaps for more regulations.  Who can blame them since their cooperation allows them to help write the new regulations.

Those Promoting Cap and Trade say we will have “basic availability“- We will not, because Southern co is moving forward with the Kyoto Protocols voluntarily which will lead other coal companies to be mandated to follow their new regulations they are helping to write.  Fanning says we will then lose up to 50% of coal plants but fails to say it is due to his new regulations he helped write. 

http://blogs.ajc.com/kyle-wingfield/2011/05/20/summit-speakers-take-whacks-at-u-s-energy-policies-rules/

Reliability will be clearly lost due to the number of closed coal plants.

Affordable energy, is the biggest lie of them all because the regulations, by design are intended to cause ALL coal plants to eventually go bankrupt even Kemper County’s plant, according to Steven Chu Department of energy.

 

Development: Energy is a key

12:05 PM, Sep. 2, 2011|

The key to economic development always
is an educated, available and motivated

workforce, but it also is the basic
availability of reliable, affordable energy.

Mississippi has made strides in both of
those components, but especially the latter.

Gov. Haley Barbour has stressed and
promoted Mississippi’s energy resources.
Those resources continue not only to
expand, but more important, to diversify.

Not true, there will be no expansion of energy sources because of the closures about to take place in Mississippi and all over America if this global warming scam/kyoto Protocols is not stopped. 

Mississippi Power President and CEO Ed
Day told The Clarion-Ledger Editorial
Board last week that the company is
proceeding rapidly on its new “clean coal”
power plant in Kemper County.

There is nothing clean about Lignite coal it is a low-grade brown wet mushy coal and if one pours a bottomless amount of money at it you might be able to remove 65% of the CO2. This is the most inefficient way to utilize coal imaginable.  This is a scam!

The $2.5 billion plant will use Mississippi’s
vast stores of lignite coal in a cutting-edge
process that will not burn, but gasify the
coal and produce energy. The CO2
byproduct will be captured and sold to
state oil producers who use it reclaim old
wells.

Selling this CO2 will be a legal battle because Carbon trading has not yet passed and now we have objective science proving there is no manmade global warming because our coal plants are giving off Carbon DioxideIt is a SCAM! Selling a scam on the stock exchange is illegal!

The Kemper plant will add a new type of
energy-producing resource to the
company.

The lignite is cheap, plentiful and easy to
mine, producing a long-term consistent
fuel cost.

LIE.  The cost will be the most expensive venture America has ever seen in EnergyProve this statement Wrong, I dare you.

It is interesting new technology, with jobs
and an important addition to the state’s
energy portfolio.  How many Jobs?

You put the Meter readers out of work, close Coal plants, put families out of their homes, and businesses go under.  There is NOTHING job building about the Kemper County Coal Scam.

Kemper is just one of the important
developments: Kior’s planned five bio-fuel
facilities in Mississippi; the Gulf LNG project
in Jackson County at the Port of Pascagoula;
Entergy’s planned upgrade of the Grand
Gulf Nuclear Station; and the expansion of
the Chevron refinery facility in Pascagoula.

In addition, there are new solar
manufacturing facilities.

Advance Mississippi – a coalition of
business, education, utility and economic
development leaders – has promoted the
creation of a sound state energy policy that
is a major component necessary for the
state’s future economic growth.

Sounds like a comment straight out of the hand book of the United Nations’ Agenda 21.  I bet if you looked up Advance MS you will find the links to Agenda 21. I did and yes the connection is clearly the United Nations’ Agenda.

Former TVA chairman and former Tupelo
mayor Glenn McCullough heads the
Advance Mississippi effort. As he has
pointed out, there is more capital
investment in energy than any other

industrial sector in the U.S. Southern states.

Mississippi is reaping some of that
investment and is poised to reap more
benefits.

INVESTMENT!?  LIE!!!  They are sowing Cap and Trade regulations and ALL of America will reap that destruction. 

The Obama administration has stressed
the growth of green energy and companies
like Mississippi Power are experimenting
beyond its traditional operations.

This is at no risk to Southern Co investors, because ratepayer are paying for the experiment.  If Mississippi Power or Southern Co had to pay for it, the Kemper County Scam would not have proceeded without international or George Soros  funding.  The new books of regulations must be written before they can be enacted.

Most important, the nation needs a sound
energy policy that balances interests by
protecting the environment while providing
efficient, affordable energy.

Sounds nice but is straight out of the United Nations handbooks, again.  It is All about the ENVIRONMENT not the people. Gaia is the reason in the fine print if you read it.  

Mississippi is on the right track in that
department.

http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20110904/OPINION01/109040314/Development-Energy-key?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Opinion|s

Not Heeding the Warnings From Other Energy Companies

Why is Mississippi ignoring the warnings from other energy companies?  Others have determined that CCS fails to make economic sense at this point in time.  Is this the deal Haley Barbour made to gain  support for his now scrapped presidential run?  The residents of Mississippi will pay for this error forever because they have now paved the way for Cap and Trade to embark. There is no going back because there is
NO RISK TO MISSISSIPPI POWER COMPANY BECAUSE WE ARE PAYING FOR IT, NOT THEM!!!
————————————————————————————————————————————–
AEP Places Carbon Capture Commercialization On Hold, Citing Uncertain Status Of Climate Policy, Weak Economy

COLUMBUS, Ohio, July 14, 2011 – American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP) is terminating its cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy and placing its plans to advance carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology to commercial scale on hold, citing the current uncertain status of U.S. climate policy and the continued weak economy as contributors to the decision.

“We are placing the project on hold until economic and policy conditions create a viable path forward,” said Michael G. Morris, AEP chairman and chief executive officer. “With the help of Alstom, the Department of Energy and other partners, we have advanced CCS technology more than any other power generator with our successful two-year project to validate the technology. But at this time it doesn’t make economic sense to continue work on the commercial-scale CCS project beyond the current engineering phase.

“We are clearly in a classic ‘which comes first?’ situation,” Morris said. “The commercialization of this technology is vital if owners of coal-fueled generation are to comply with potential future climate regulations without prematurely retiring efficient, cost-effective generating capacity. But as a regulated utility, it is impossible to gain regulatory approval to recover our share of the costs for validating and deploying the technology without federal requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions already in place. The uncertainty also makes it difficult to attract partners to help fund the industry’s share.”

In 2009, AEP was selected by the Department of Energy (DOE) to receive funding of up to $334 million through the Clean Coal Power Initiative to pay part of the costs for installation of a commercial-scale CCS system at AEP’s Mountaineer coal-fueled power plant in New Haven, W.Va. The system would capture at least 90 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) from 235 megawatts of the plant’s 1,300 megawatts of capacity. The captured CO2, approximately 1.5 million metric tons per year, would be treated and compressed, then injected into suitable geologic formations for permanent storage approximately 1.5 miles below the surface.

Plans were for the project to be completed in four phases, with the system to begin commercial operation in 2015. AEP has informed the DOE that it will complete the first phase of the project (front-end engineering and design, development of an environmental impact statement and development of a detailed Phase II and Phase III schedule) but will not move to the second phase.

DOE’s share of the cost for completion of the first phase is expected to be approximately $16 million, half the expenses that qualify under the DOE agreement.

AEP and partner Alstom began operating a smaller-scale validation of the technology in October 2009 at the Mountaineer Plant, the first fully-integrated capture and storage facility in the world. That system captured up to 90 percent of the CO2 from a slipstream of flue gas equivalent to 20 megawatts of generating capacity and injected it into suitable geologic formations for permanent storage approximately 1.5 miles below the surface. The validation project, which received no federal funds, was closed as planned in May after meeting project goals. Between October 2009 and May 2011, the life of the validation project, the CCS system operated more than 6,500 hours, captured more than 50,000 metric tons of CO2 and permanently stored more than 37,000 metric tons of CO2.

“The lessons we learned from the validation project were incorporated into the Phase I engineering for the commercial-scale project,” Morris said.

American Electric Power is one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation’s largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 38,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. AEP’s transmission system directly or indirectly serves about 10 percent of the electricity demand in the Eastern Interconnection, the interconnected transmission system that covers 38 eastern and central U.S. states and eastern Canada, and approximately 11 percent of the electricity demand in ERCOT, the transmission system that covers much of Texas. AEP’s utility units operate as AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana and east Texas). AEP’s headquarters are in Columbus, Ohio.

This report made by American Electric Power and its Registrant Subsidiaries contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Although AEP and each of its Registrant Subsidiaries believe that their expectations are based on reasonable assumptions, any such statements may be influenced by factors that could cause actual outcomes and results to be materially different from those projected. Among the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements are: the economic climate and growth in, or contraction within, AEP’s service territory and changes in market demand and demographic patterns; inflationary or deflationary interest rate trends; volatility in the financial markets, particularly developments affecting the availability of capital on reasonable terms and developments impairing AEP’s ability to finance new capital projects and refinance existing debt at attractive rates; the availability and cost of funds to finance working capital and capital needs, particularly during periods when the time lag between incurring costs and recovery is long and the costs are material; electric load and customer growth; weather conditions, including storms, and AEP’s ability to recover significant storm restoration costs through applicable rate mechanisms; available sources and costs of, and transportation for, fuels and the creditworthiness and performance of fuel suppliers and transporters; availability of necessary generating capacity and the performance of AEP’s generating plants; AEP’s ability to recover Indiana Michigan Power’s Donald C. Cook Nuclear Plant Unit 1 restoration costs through warranty, insurance and the regulatory process; AEP’s ability to recover regulatory assets and stranded costs in connection with deregulation; AEP’s ability to recover increases in fuel and other energy costs through regulated or competitive electric rates; AEP’s ability to build or acquire generating capacity, including the Turk Plant, and transmission line facilities (including the ability to obtain any necessary regulatory approvals and permits) when needed at acceptable prices and terms and to recover those costs (including the costs of projects that are cancelled) through applicable rate cases or competitive rates; new legislation, litigation and government regulation, including requirements for reduced emissions of sulfur, nitrogen, mercury, carbon, soot or particulate matter and other substances or additional regulation of fly ash and similar combustion products that could impact the continued operation and cost recovery of AEP’s plants; timing and resolution of pending and future rate cases, negotiations and other regulatory decisions (including rate or other recovery of new investments in generation, distribution and transmission service and environmental compliance); resolution of litigation (including AEP’s dispute with Bank of America); AEP’s ability to constrain operation and maintenance costs; AEP’s ability to develop and execute a strategy based on a view regarding prices of electricity, natural gas and other energy-related commodities; changes in the creditworthiness of the counterparties with whom AEP has contractual arrangements, including participants in the energy trading market; actions of rating agencies, including changes in the ratings of debt; volatility and changes in markets for electricity, natural gas, coal, nuclear fuel and other energy-related commodities; changes in utility regulation, including the implementation of electric security plans and related regulation in Ohio and the allocation of costs within regional transmission organizations, including PJM and SPP; accounting pronouncements periodically issued by accounting standard-setting bodies; the impact of volatility in the capital markets on the value of the investments held by AEP’s pension, other postretirement benefit plans and nuclear decommissioning trust and the impact on future funding requirements; prices and demand for power that AEP generates and sells at wholesale; changes in technology, particularly with respect to new, developing or alternative sources of generation; and other risks and unforeseen events, including wars, the effects of terrorism (including increased security costs), embargoes and other catastrophic events.

http://www.aep.com/newsroom/newsreleases/?id=1704

Carbon Capture and Storage‬‏ is Very Inefficient

 

@ 3:15 he talks about how we have a process to “economically” capture co2.  This process, is very inefficient as you can see, cooling the exhaust gasses, reabsorb the co2, then reheating the ammonia solution, then re-cooling it again…

 

 

Brandon Presley: Consumers lost in Mississippi Power’s planned Kemper County plant | Better MS Report

Brandon Presley: Consumers lost in Mississippi Power’s planned Kemper County plant | Better MS Report.

From Better Mississippi Report:

JACKSON (Tuesday, July 6, 2010) – Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley says consumers lost in Mississippi Power Co.’s planned Kemper County coal plant because the utility doesn’t have to guarantee the technology behind the project will ever work.

Mississippi Power’s plant, the first of its kind in the world, will use a new technology that converts a soft coal called lignite into a gas to fuel turbines and create electricity. The concept is high risk because no one can guarantee that the technology to be used in the plant will work.

Presley said Gov. Haley Barbour and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu sent letters asking for support of the Mississippi Power plant. But Presley voted in April and May against forcing Mississippi Power ratepayers to finance the plant.

“I received letters urging me to support the project from everyone from Gov. Barbour to Steven Chu, secretary of energy in the Obama administration,” said Presley, who represents the Northern District on the three-member PSC.

“If they thought it was such a good project, why didn’t they find a way to pay for it rather than forcing Mississippi Power’s customers to be the sole investors in the plant?” Presley told the Better Mississippi Report.

The PSC voted 2-1 in April to allow Mississippi Power Co. to build the Kemper County plant at a cost of no more than $2.4 billion. Commissioners said they would decide at a later date whether to grant Mississippi Power’s request for ratepayers to finance the plant before it begins operating.

Less than a month later in May, the PSC voted 2-1 to increase the cost cap of the Mississippi Power plant to $2.88 billion and also allowed the company to charge ratepayers for financing costs before the plant is completed.

Presley cast the sole no votes at the April and May meetings.

Presley, 32, a lifelong resident of Nettleton, is in his first term on the PSC – winning the position in 2007 after serving as mayor of Nettleton from 2001 to 2007. He talked about the Mississippi Power plant and other issues in an interview with the Better Mississippi Report.

Better Mississippi Group: You were the only member of the Mississippi Public Service Commission to oppose the Mississippi Power Co. plan to build a coal-burning plant in Kemper County. Can you explain your concerns about this proposal and why you voted against it?
Brandon Presley:
Very simple. Mississippi Power wanted the ratepayers to pay in advance hundreds of millions of dollars in financing costs and then $2.4 billion (now up to $2.88 billion) for the plant itself, and after hours and hours of sworn testimony and days of hearings they would not, and to this day, still will not, guarantee their new technology to be used in this plant will work.
If I had voted yes for this plant, I would have been a part of forcing ratepayers in one of the poorest states in the nation to pay, in advance, for something the company can’t even guarantee will work and that was, obviously, a big concern to me. I strongly support innovative technology, and I have a deep admiration for the scientists and engineers who bring about groundbreaking ideas that could make our lives better. But I believe the companies themselves and private sector investors should be willing to take some of the risks and not force all the risk on ratepayers who don’t have a choice in their providers. Remember, customers of Mississippi Power can’t choose who provides their electricity. They must use Mississippi Power or be in the dark, literally. So they are now being forced, via their electric bill, to invest in this plant.
I received letters urging me to support the project from everyone from Gov. Barbour to Steven Chu, secretary of energy in the Obama administration. I wondered if they thought it was such a good project, why didn’t they find a way to pay for it rather than forcing Mississippi Power’s customers to be the sole investors in the plant?
Also, I felt strongly that since there are so many unknowns out there, especially about the technology itself, that nothing would have been harmed by waiting. As I have said, Henry Ford built a better car five years after he started on his first one.
In a few years, we should have a better idea about other discoveries going on now, such as the impact of shale natural gas and also about the technology in the plant. Maybe then Mississippi Power will be able to guarantee that it will work. In a few years, we should also have a better understanding of the current energy legislation and environmental regulation that is being debated in Washington.
If Mississippi Power is going to ask consumers to pay up to $2.88 billion, plus hundreds of millions in banking fees (before the plant puts out any electricity), they need to have their ducks in a row with technology that they can guarantee works and share some of the risk. They didn’t. So I voted “no” twice.

Better Mississippi: The vote was a total change from a stand the PSC took days earlier. Can you tell us what led to the about-face on the PSC?
Presley:
I’ve been consistent – I voted no both times. You would have to ask the other two commissioners that question. Even though I could not support the project after hearing and studying the facts presented to us for months, I felt the first order on April 29th was strong and at least had some good protections in it for the ratepayers. I do not know why the majority voted to ease up on that order and grant the company another $480 million in spending authority under certain circumstances.

Better Mississippi: Mississippi Power Co. won’t release the possible increase in electric rates that customers may have to pay to finance construction of the Kemper County plant. Is this something that should be released to the public? Why?
Presley:
Absolutely. They should have been disclosed before the plant was approved. It was one of the reasons I voted against the project. Two times before the final votes, I asked if the rate impacts were going to be made public before the project was approved, and both times the answer was “no.”
The customers of Mississippi Power have a right to know how this plant is going to impact their bills. They shouldn’t have to wait until they get the bill out of their mailbox to understand how much it is going to cost them. I had proposed changing the rule that allowed Mississippi Power to deem these rate impacts “confidential” prior to the final vote on Kemper. I raised the issue of changing this rule in May but was out-voted. The issue was taken up in our June meeting, at which time it passed unanimously.

Better Mississippi: With the Sierra Club taking the Mississippi Power Co. Kemper County issue to court, how do you see things working now? Will this be a long, protracted case?
Presley:
All I know is that I will keep fighting for taxpayers and ratepayers no matter what happens.

Better Mississippi: You are one of three commissioners on the PSC. Can you tell us about your relationship with the other commissioners? Do you all tend to get along? How do you handle disagreements on major issues, such as the one with Mississippi Power Co.?
Presley:
I like my fellow commissioners and think they’re good men. As with any three-member commission, we are going to disagree from time to time.
With that said, I tend to be very passionate about the job the people elected me to do. I’m passionate about what I believe a regulator is supposed to do. I won’t back down when I believe consumers are getting a raw deal or when I see something unfair about the process. I think that’s what the ratepayers expect and it’s certainly how an elected official who is protecting the public’s interest should act, in my opinion.
When you have the courage of your convictions, you don’t mind going against the grain or standing alone. I recently heard a pretty good saying that fits this situation, “Even a dead fish can go with the flow.” I don’t plan to be a “go with the flow” commissioner.

Better Mississippi: What do you see as the biggest challenge of the PSC these days?
Presley:
The single biggest challenge is making sure that consumers aren’t left out of the picture at the PSC. It seems that almost every rate plan, service plan, rule and regulation was written for and by the utilities for their benefit. Too many times the people who actually have to pay the utility bills have just been left out of the process and forgotten. The simple fact is that if the PSC doesn’t stand up for the consumer, nobody else is going to.
We desperately need balance at the PSC. And by that, I mean that we need to remember that there are real people, families, small businesses and industries that have to pay for these rate hikes and proposals. The utilities have a vast reservoir of attorneys, lobbyists, experts and cheerleaders. All the general public has is the PSC.

Better Mississippi: What do you see as the most important regulatory issues facing the PSC and consumers in the state?
Presley:
So many Mississippians are facing very tough economic situations in their homes and at their businesses. My mission is to do everything possible to keep money in the pockets of taxpayers and ratepayers and not help the big utilities make undeserved profits. That is our single biggest challenge. I believe we can craft policies that are pro-consumer and pro-business. Letting utilities increase rates whenever they want hurts so many small businesses that are the backbone of our state’s economy. I am proud to say that I have voted against more spending and rate increases than any other commissioner in the history of the PSC.

Better Mississippi: How do you see your role on the PSC?
Presley:
I see my role as a watchdog for the public interest – period.
A commissioner I’ve gotten to know from another state says it best. One time, when the hearing room was full of attorneys and high-paid lobbyists for the utility companies, he called the meeting to order by asking everyone who was there on behalf of the utilities to please stand up. Almost the whole room, of course, stood to their feet. Then he told them to sit down. He then asked, “Who is here on behalf of the ratepayers?” Nobody responded and he stood up and said “You see, folks? That’s why I’m here. That’s my job.” I couldn’t agree more.

Better Mississippi: Statewide and district elections will take place in 2011. Do you plan to run for re-election? Why or why not?
Presley:
I honestly haven’t given it much thought. I’m consumed daily with issues at the PSC and getting my job done. I will make a decision about the election in the coming months.

 

AEP Drops Carbon Storage Project On Lack Of Federal Carbon Limits – WSJ.com

AEP Drops Carbon Storage Project On Lack Of Federal Carbon Limits – WSJ.com.

   By Cassandra Sweet
   Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

American Electric Power Co. (AEP) will stop work on a low-carbon coal-fired power plant as political support shrinks in the U.S. for regulating heat-trapping emissions linked to climate change.

The facility, which had been touted as a leading project to make the complex technology commercially viable, is the latest sign that the U.S. power industry is moving away from carbon dioxide emission-reduction technology. A lack of consensus in Washington over regulating carbon dioxide emissions, coupled with sluggish demand for power, has pressured AEP and other utilities to cut investment in so-called clean coal technology.

AEP Chairman and Chief Executive Michael G. Morris said the project to capture and store carbon emissions from an existing coal-fired plant in West Virginia doesn’t make economic sense while U.S. climate policy remains uncertain and the economy is weak.

West Virginia regulators had prohibited the company from passing on the project’s costs to utility customers until federal greenhouse-gas reduction rules are in place, further weakening the project, Morris said.

AEP designed the system to capture at least 90% of the carbon dioxide from a 235-megawatt piece of the company’s 1,300-MW Mountaineer coal plant in New Haven, W.Va.

The second part of the system would treat and compress about 1.5 million metric tons of CO2 from the plant per year, then inject the gas into rock formations about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) below the surface, where it would be permanently stored.

The company said it would terminate an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy, which had offered AEP $334 million to cover part of the costs of the carbon storage project. The project was to be completed in four phases and begin commercial operation in 2015.

A similar plant using different technology, proposed for Taylorville, Ill., by privately held power generator Tenaska, was scuttled in January after Illinois lawmakers defeated legislation that would have allowed the company to pass through the $3.5 billion cost of the project to utility customers. The Energy Department had offered the company up to $2.6 billion in loan guarantees and a $417 million tax credit to support construction of the plant.

Other low-carbon coal projects are moving ahead.

Southern Co.’s (SO) Mississippi Power utility is building a $2.4 billion, 580-megawatt low-emission coal-fired power plant in Kemper County, Miss. The plant, which was approved by state regulators, is designed to convert coal or lignite into a gas, which is then used to generate electricity, with lower emissions than a traditional coal plant. The company obtained a $270 million grant from the Department of Energy and $412 million in federal tax credits to support construction of the project.

Another low-carbon coal project is being developed by a coalition of utilities and coal companies called FutureGen. The $1.3 billion project would retrofit a 200-megawatt Ameren Corp. (AEE) coal plant in Meredosia, Ill., with so-called advanced oxy-combustion technology and build pipelines to ship captured CO2 to a nearby storage facility. A federal environmental review of the project, which has $1 billion in federal funding, is still pending.

AEP, one of the nation’s largest utilities and one of the largest coal-fired power generators, is still focused on cutting emissions. The company has estimated that it will likely to have to modify or shut down several of its older coal-fired power plants under pending federal limits on traditional pollution that could cost $6 billion to $8 billion over the next nine years.

Shares of AEP closed Thursday about 1% lower at $37.55.

-By Cassandra Sweet, Dow Jones Newswires; 415=269-4446; cassandra.sweet@dowjones.com

ISS – Mississippi coal plant taken to court

ISS – Mississippi coal plant taken to court.

Mississippi coal plant taken to court

kemper_coal_plant_press_conf.jpgBy Ada McMahon, Bridge the Gulf

On Monday, Feb. 14, the Sierra Club took Mississippi Power’s proposed lignite coalmine and power plant to court, as part of its ongoing attempt to stop the project from being built.

In a morning press conference, the environmental group and a diverse range of residents and advocates voiced their opposition to the project, calling it “dirty, expensive, and unnecessary.” They said residents of south Mississippi simply cannot afford the $2.4 billion project, which is expected to bring a 48% rate increase to Mississippi Power’s residential consumers.

Rose Johnson, founder of the North Gulfport Community Land Trust and former head of the Sierra Club’s Mississippi Chapter, spoke about the impact the project would have on the African American community of North Gulfport. “My opposition arises from the numbing and debilitating effect that a 48% rate hike would have on my community and its citizens. Many are struggling to make ends meet. The last thing they need … is an unnecessary, expensive, $3 billion coal plant.”

Byron Johnson spoke to the impact such a dramatic rate hike would have on local business. “We will not be able to survive a [rate] increase,” he said of the two Gulfport restaurants he owns.

The project, slated for Kemper County, was initially rejected by Mississippi’s Public Service Commission, which cited its “unprecedented risk” and expense to ratepayers. But then the Commission reversed its decision, granting a certificate the project needs to move forward.

Sierra Club through its attorney Robert Wiygul argued that this “flip-flop” decision is arbitrary and not supported by the Commission’s own findings. They say that the Commission must justify its decision with more substantial evidence that the project is in the public interest, or stick with its earlier decision and not grant the certificate at all.

Many of Wiygul’s arguments came from the Commission’s earlier decision to reject the project. He cited the Commission’s comments that it would be “too big to fail,” and create “unprecedented risk” and “unprecedented cost” for ratepayers in Southern Mississippi.

Wiygul said that the Commission failed to explain how these, and a total of 11 risks it initially identified, were no longer of concern. 

Through his questioning, Chancery Court Judge Jim Persons appeared to have similar concerns, saying that the Commission did not address whether ratepayers will be able to afford a 48% increase in energy bills. The Judge said he will make his decision within two weeks.

Mississippi Power’s attorney Ben Stone argued that diversifying Mississippi’s energy sources with lignite coal would be cheaper for the ratepayer, pointing to the volatility of natural gas prices. But he failed to offer specifics to counter the claim that rates would rise by nearly half for Mississippi Power customers.

Passing this “unprecedented cost” off on ratepayers is enabled by a 2008 Mississippi law, which allows power companies to pay for plants before they are built through rate increases, rather than paying for upfront costs themselves or through private investors.

In addition to rate increases, which would begin in 2014, opponents have concerns about the environmental and human health impacts of lignite coal mining. The Sierra Club says the Kemper County project would displace hundreds of residents, strip mine 45 square miles, create a 500 acre dump for toxic ash, and emit mercury into streams, wetlands and neighboring communities.

No matter the environmental impacts, Sierra Club calls building any new power plant in Mississippi “unnecessary” because current plants and new energy efficiency projects can easily meet the state’s energy needs for decades to come.

(In the photo by Ada McMahon, Rose Johnson and other residents, business owners, advocates and elected officials from the Mississippi Gulf Coast speak out against the Kemper County power plant at the Harrison County Courthouse on Feb. 14, 2011.)

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