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

Mississippi Power & Southern Company’s FRAUD on Local Radio

I bet this topic will NOT be brought up in Mississippi Supreme court since the Sierra Club is a Non-Government Agency for the United Nations.   My understanding is the Sierra Club is a tool used to put laws into place by bringing litigation to UN connected programs and then settling or causing  decisions to be placed into law moving the Agenda of the UN forward.  We will see.  If they really cared they would demand to have the CO2 controversy proven in court to settle the science.

From Youtube

Mississippi Power‘s CO2 Capturing Lignite Coal Plant in Kemper County is based on FRAUDULENT SCIENCE. My favorite Gulf Coast Morning Radio Show host Kipp Greggory, interviewed former NASA scientist and White House Adviser, John L Casey, Author of COLD SUN. This is a portion of the exchange.
The Space and Science Research Corporation, (SSRC) is an independent scientific research organization in Orlando, Florida, USA. It has become the leading research organization in the United States on the subject of the science and planning for the next climate change to a long lasting cold era especially with regard to alerting the government, the media, and the people of the need to prepare for this new climate era.

Its staff of Supporting Researchers includes some of the world’s best in the fields of solar physics and geology including earthquake science and volcanism.

The SSRC and its President, Mr. John L. Casey, have an established record of accuracy in climate change predictions using the Relational Cycle Theory or RC Theory of climate change, a theory based on solar cycles as the main drivers behind the Earth’s variations in climate.
The Mission of the SSRC Is: To provide an independent un-biased resource for the government, media, corporations, and the people on important areas of scientific research and engineering, especially the science behind the next climate change and measures that can be taken to prepare for it.

Supreme court will hear Kemper Coal Plant arguments Mississippi Power & Southern Company

Supreme court will hear Kemper Coal Plant arguments

by MBJ Staff  (Mississippi Business Journal)

Published: November 4,2011

The Mississippi Supreme Court will hear arguments from the Sierra Club challenging the state Public Service Commission’s approval of the project in Kemper County by Mississippi Power Co. Mississippi Power has started construction of the $2.4 billion coal plant.

Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 14.

The suit was filed and heard in Harrison County Chancery Court. Judge Jim Persons ruled in favor of the Commission and Gulfport-based Mississippi Power in February.

Mississippi Power began building the Kemper plant after the Commission passed a second conditional approval of the facility with 2-1 vote in May 2010.

The Commission’s first conditional approval was passed in April of 2010 and capped the project at $2.4 billion, among other restrictions. The second order, passed approximately one month later, limits the plant’s cost overruns to $2.88 billion and also allows the utility to charge customers for financing costs before the plant becomes operational.

The Sierra Club believes the Commissions’ second conditional approval of the plant is arbitrary and  unsupported by evidence presented in extensive hearings regarding the project.

The suit says that the Commissioners “did not explain how their finding that a $2.88 billion cost was acceptable could be squared with their previous finding that there is no evidence to support a cost of over $2.4 billion.”

State Sierra Club director Louie Miller said the club has taken on the unexpected role of consumer advocate in addition to environmental advocate in this case.

Included in the suit is an effort to make customer rate impacts from the plant available to the public.

Secret Rate increases Exposed: even if plant NEVER works

More on Obama’s US Secretary of Energy who Targeted PSC’s for Kemper County

Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy

As United States Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu is charged with helping implement President Obama’s ambitious agenda to invest in clean energy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, address the global climate crisis, and create millions of new jobs.

Dr. Chu is a distinguished scientist and co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics (1997). He has devoted his recent scientific career to the search for new solutions to our energy challenges and stopping global climate change – a mission he continues with even greater urgency as Secretary of Energy.

Prior to his appointment, Dr. Chu was the Director of the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, where he led the lab in pursuit of alternative and renewable energy technologies. He also taught at the University of California as a Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology. Previously, he held positions at Stanford University and AT&T Bell Laboratories.

Dr. Chu’s research in atomic physics, quantum electronics, polymer and biophysics includes tests of fundamental theories in physics, the development of methods to laser cool and trap atoms, atom interferometry, the development of the first atomic fountain, and the manipulation and study of polymers and biological systems at the single molecule level. While at Stanford, he helped start Bio-X, a multi-disciplinary initiative that brings together the physical and biological sciences with engineering and medicine.

The holder of 10 patents, Dr. Chu has published nearly 250 scientific and technical papers. He remains active with his research group and has recently published work on general relativity and single molecule biology and biophysics that includes sub-nanometer molecular imaging with optical microscopy, cadherin adhesion, neural vesicle fusion, and nerve growth factor transport. About 30 alumni of his research group have gone on to become professors in their own right and have been recognized by dozens of prizes and awards.

Dr. Chu is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Academia Sinica, the Korean Academy of Sciences and Technology and numerous other civic and professional organizations. He received an A.B. degree in mathematics, a B.S. degree in physics from the University of Rochester, and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley as well as honorary degrees from 15 universities.

Dr. Chu was born in Saint Louis, Missouri in 1948. He is married to Dr. Jean Chu, who holds a D.Phil. in Physics from Oxford and has served as chief of staff to two Stanford University presidents as well as Dean of Admissions. Secretary Chu has two grown sons, Geoffrey and Michael, by a previous marriage.

In announcing Dr. Chu’s selection, President Obama said, “The future of our economy and national security is inextricably linked to one challenge: energy. Steven has blazed new trails as a scientist, teacher, and administrator, and has recently led the Berkeley National Laboratory in pursuit of new alternative and renewable energies. He is uniquely suited to be our next Secretary of Energy as we make this pursuit a guiding purpose of the Department of Energy, as well as a national mission.” Dr. Chu was sworn into office as the 12th Secretary of Energy on January 21, 2009.

http://www.energy.gov/organization/dr_steven_chu.htm

Pressure from Obama’s Energy Czar for MS PSC and So. Company to Compromise for Cap and Trade

U.S. Energy Secretary Wants Kemper Approval

by Amy McCullough

Published: May 7,2010

The Energy Daily reports today that U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu hopes the Mississippi Public Service Commission and Southern Company can strike a compromise on a proposed $2.4 billion clean coal plant to be built in Kemper County.

The Mississippi Commission voted April 29 to allow the plant to go forward if Mississippi Power Company (a division of Southern Company) agreed to cap costs at $2.4 billion. MPC had previously proposed a cost cap of $3.2 billion. The Commission also turned the company down on its request to put Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) in rate base – or charge customers for plant financing costs before and during plant construction.

“The (Southern) project is also a large-scale project but it’s now in jeopardy. I just hope that Southern Co. and the (Mississippi) commission come to a compromise agreement…” Chu said, according to The Energy Daily.

Chu spoke Thursday at the Obama administration’s Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – a task force charged with overcoming barriers to CCS within 10 years, with a goal of bringing five to 10 commercial demonstration projects online by 2016.

MPC has said the Commission’s restrictions “seem to make it impossible” to move forward with the plant and that the denial of CWIP would not allow them to operate in a financially responsible manner.

The Kemper plant would be the first U.S. plant to demonstrate CCS on a commercial scale. Southern Company first pursued a similar project, the Orlando Gasification Project, in Florida. After the state cancelled the project, Southern then gained permission to transfer $270 million in U.S. Department of Energy funds to Mississippi to pursue a clean coal project with CCS here.

Kemper would gasify Mississippi lignite, a lower rank coal, and then burn the gas to produce electricity. The company also plans to sell the plant’s captured carbon for Enhance Oil Recovery projects. In EOR, gas can be injected into depleted oil fields at high pressure to increase the amount of petroleum that can be extracted.

http://msbusiness.com/2010/05/us-energy-secretary-wants-kemper-approval/

Commissioners: Law allowing utility to hide rate impact unfair » Mississippi Business Journal

 

 

Two out of the three Mississippi Public Service Commissioners think a law that has allowed Mississippi Power Company to hide the rate impacts of its proposed $2.4 billion power plant is wrong.

By law, a utility is allowed to file with the Commission any information it wants to keep confidential.

To uncover the information, a third party must make a request through the Public Records Act. The utility then has 30 days to petition Hinds County Chancery Court to rule in its favor or turn over the documents if the court chooses not to rule in its favor.

The 190,000 customers of Mississippi Power Company have little idea what effect in real dollars the Kemper County clean coal plant would have on their monthly electric bills.

Outside Commission proceedings, MPC has said rates will go up “about a third” whether Kemper is built or a natural gas-fired alternative is used. `

Northern District Commissioner and Chairman Brandon Presley said he plans to file a motion to change the rule so that the Commission will have the authority to allow or disallow a utility to mark information as confidential.

“This rule does nothing but protect the utilities…and to heck with the consumer,” Presley said. “We (the commissioners) are the representatives for the public interest, but if a consumer comes to me and asks me what the addition of this power plant is going to do to his rates, I have to say, ‘I’m sorry. The utility told me I can’t tell you that,’” Presley said.

Likewise, Southern District Commissioner Leonard Bentz is unhappy with the law.

“Those numbers should be made available to the public,” Bentz has said. “The ratepayers need to know the impacts. When the bills go up, they’re not going to call (company CEO) Anthony Topazi. They’re going to call me … The whole story is not getting told.”

While Presley does not favor the Kemper plant, Bentz did vote for an April 29 order that conditionally approved the project. Bentz’ district comprises most of the citizens who will be paying for the plant if it goes forward.

“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,” Bentz said.

Under the Administrative Procedures Act, the Commission has the authority to amend its own rules, Presley said. A Commissioner can propose a rule change then allow utilities and other intervenors to submit their opinions. The Commissioners take comments into consideration and may then choose to alter a proposed rule before a final vote is taken.

Central District Commissioner Lynn Posey doesn’t have a strong opinion about the law.

Regarding the rule, Posey said, “I don’t know a reason why off the top of my head (rate impacts) would be confidential… I would not object to looking into it.” However, as the law is being interpreted now, the court has the ultimate authority, and “to some extent that’s probably not a bad thing,” he said.

Posey voted along with Bentz for the conditional approval of the Kemper plant.

Click here to read Rule 109 of the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure which addresses confidential filing of documents.

MPC filed a request for a rehearing on the plant, saying the conditions put forth in the April 29 order make the project impossible to finance. The Commission has said it will likely rule on the motion on May 26.

Commissioners: Law allowing utility to hide rate impact unfair » Mississippi Business Journal.

 

Anthony Topazi, Barbour, BGR Group, Bloomberg News, Brandon Presley, Clean Coal Power Initiative, Construction Work in Progress, CWIP, Florida, Gov. Haley Barbour, Griffith & Rogers Inc., Interpublic Group of Companies Inc., Kemper County clean coal plant, Kemper County clean coal project, Kemper County Coal plant, Leonard Bentz, Lynn Posey, Mississippi Business Journal, Mississippi Power Company, Mississippi State Ethics Commission, Orlando Gasification Project, Public Service Commission, Southern Company, The New Republic, Todd Terrell, U.S. Department of Energy

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