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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