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 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.

Mississippi Power Requests You Pay $900,000 Jet Expenses

PSC mulls limit on utilities’ travel repayment

by The Associated Press

JACKSON — The Mississippi Public Service Commission could vote this fall on a proposed rule designed to limit the corporate travel expenses that utility companies can pass along to customers.

The three-member commission took comments on the proposal Thursday in Jackson.

The rule would not prohibit utility companies from using private jets, but it would limit reimbursement to the equivalent cost of a coach rate on a commercial flight.

Southern District Commissioner Leonard Bentz told The Associated Press that the rule could come up for a vote in two months.

“We’ve got to come up with a good, sound, fair legal rule that will give them direction,” Bentz said, speaking of utility companies.

Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley proposed the rule, saying companies should not pass along expenses to customers.

“What do they need a plane for in the first place? But if they’ve got one, let them pay for it. It shouldn’t be the guy or the gal on the street struggling to pay their power bill,” Presley told WLBT-TV on Thursday.

Presley said in July that Mississippi Power Co. had sought permission from the PSC to pass along $900,000 in corporate jet expenses to the company’s customers. The request was withdrawn.

“They should be ashamed for filing something at this commission asking to recover that kind of money for corporate jet expense,” Presley said Thursday. “It’s wrong, and they should pay for it out of their own pocket.”

Mississippi Power Co. spokeswoman Cindy Duvall said in a statement Thursday that state law allows all reasonable and prudent travel expenses to be recovered through public utility rates.

“Mississippi Power uses all modes of travel to conduct its business, including corporate aircraft, when necessary,” Duvall said. “The commission’s proposed rule unnecessarily assumes that commercial air is the most cost effective means of travel, that it is adequate to meet MPC’s needs and is available when needed.

“Reasonable and necessary travel expenses, regardless of the mode of transportation, are prudent and required to carry out public utility business and should be treated similar to any other operating expense.”

Haley Barbour Sends Letters to Pressure Kemper Purchase on Ratepeyers

Commissioners Deny Barbour’s Influence

by Adam Lynch
June 23, 2010

Mississippi Sierra Club Director Louie Miller says that a letter from Gov. Haley Barbour to the Public Service Commission asking it to approve an experimental coal plant in Kemper County may have had an unseemly impact on Public Service Commissioners Leonard Bentz’ and Lynn Posey’s decision to increase the plant’s construction-cost cap by $480 million at the request of Mississippi Power Company.

“It’s not coincidental that the ‘flip flop’ occurred less than 72 hours after Governor Haley Barbour sent a strongly worded letter to the Commissioners insisting the plant get built,” Miller wrote in a statement. “It is also not lost on us that Barbour’s Washington lobby firm, Barbour, Griffith and Rogers, represents Southern Company, the parent company of Mississippi Power, who touted on their website they were responsible for lobbying the (U.S.) Department of Energy to land federal money for Kemper.”

Barbour stated in his May 24 letter that a PSC decision making the construction of the plant impossible would be “an awful, outrageous outcome.”

The Mississippi Sierra Club filed a June 17 lawsuit in Harrison County Chancery Court calling the PSC’s decision to raise the construction-cost cap of the plant by 20 percent “arbitrary and capricious.” The suit challenges the decision by Bentz and Posey to revise the original April 29 PSC decision capping construction expenses of the proposed coal-burning power plant at $2.4 billion.

Under the original decision, the stockholders of Mississippi Power, the company seeking to construct the plant, would have carried any costs above $2.4 billion. MPC complained, however, that they should be able to pass additional costs above $2.4 billion down to their ratepayers, and warned that they could not afford to build the plant if they were not allowed to do so.

When Bentz and Posey revised their decision May 26, they allowed the company to charge ratepayers an additional $480 million, or up to $2.88 billion for the plant—even though MPC did not release to the public the amount of the rate increases customers would shoulder or provide any documentation supporting the rate increase. Under comparable circumstances, Entergy Mississippi customer rates increased about 40 percent after construction of the similarly priced Grand Gulf nuclear reactor in the 1980s.

“The actions of the majority are arbitrary, capricious, beyond legal authority and unsupported by substantial evidence. These actions are contrary to governing statutes. The Commission’s decision granting the certificate and the May 26, 2010, order must be vacated,” the Sierra Club states in its motion.

The organization also demands that the court order the commission to act on an earlier motion that the Sierra Club filed with the PSC to make public how the plant affects rates, and to temporarily suspend the PSC decision allowing construction of the Kemper project pending a decision by the court.

Commissioner Bentz disputed Miller’s argument that Barbour held any power over his personal decision to upgrade the April 29 decision.

“When did the Sierra Club ever support anything that is progressive?” Bentz asked. “They have opposed this plant from the beginning. They talk about us flip-flopping and changing our minds, but that’s incorrect. We never denied the power company the right to build the plant, not in the first order and not in the second order.”

Commissioner Brandon Presley, who voted against both PSC decisions to allow the construction of the plant, said at a June press luncheon and in his May 26 dissent that the PSC had received no new information warranting the increase in the construction cap.

“It seems the only reason the majority changed its mind in this case is because Mississippi Power Company insisted,” Presley wrote in his May 26 dissent.

Bentz argued that MPC still must approach the PSC for approval before charging ratepayers anything more than the original $2.4 billion.

“Louie Miller is an idiot,” Bentz said. “Our decision does not automatically grant MPC a dime more than their original $2.4 billion price. They still have to come back to us if the cost goes beyond that and ask permission for that increase.”

But Presley says, however, that the PSC will undoubtedly approve the additional costs.

“The project costs more than (MPC’s) net worth. As soon as the cost goes north of $2.4 billion and you don’t approve the cost increase, we’ll bankrupt the company,” he said.

Bentz added that he was unaware of any influence from a letter by the governor, and said he was unfamiliar with the letter to which Miller referred. Presley, who said he submitted the letter into public record after receiving the document, said he had been unimpressed with the message. “My position is that if the administration in Washington and the state feels so confident about this plant let them come in and pay for it,” Presley said.

http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/index.php/site/comments/commissioners_deny_barbours_influence_062310/

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.

 

Obama, Van Jones, Barbour, Bentz, & Posey

Van Jones and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu are both on Obama’s payroll to lead the progressive movement for Economic Justice.  The chickens-have-come-home-to-roost right here in Kemper County Mississippi.

Prepare for your electric bill to increase up to 45% starting Jan 1, 2012. I think this delay is to assure successful reelections of the submissive PSCs.  Bentz, PSC South District, said the economy will rebound by 2012 and that is why he waited to raise rates.  Really?

The Kemper CAP AND TRADE project is slightly funded by Obama’s stimulus package for Green jobs.   When our Public Service Commissioners initially set financial limits to Mississippi Power’s estimate for construction,  Mississippi Power concluded the project could not proceed. ( I understand MSP has horrible credit and cannot get a loan.)

So at that junction, I understand, our PSC’s  could place the burden on families to fund the billions or Obama takes his cap and trade and shoves it to some other gullible state.  (Not Florida they rejected it)  That is where U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, with Obama’s  magic comes in.

Please see the article on Steven Chu and his vodoo-like ability change the minds of Leonard Bents and Lynn Posey to suddenly approve the most widespread economic destructive path starting with gullible Mississippi.

Power’s High Price Will Cost Jobs PSC LEONARD BENTZ:

PSC COMMISSIONER LEONARD BENTZ: Power’s High Cost Will Cost Coast Jobs

Sunday, February 08, 2009 12:53 PM

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

Feb. 8–Leonard Bentz 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.  (I strongly question the effectiveness of this communication, for I have asked multiple Business owners and members of Chamber and rarely did one say, “oh yes I heard about it.”  And no one said MS power told me.)  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. (that is because no one knew about the meeting.  Bentz cares more about his no call list than a change that will affect the homes of every Mississippian.)“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.

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, “Profitmargins 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 customerservice.”

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.”

—–

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

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via PSC COMMISSIONER LEONARD BENTZ: Power’s High Cost Will Cost Coast Jobs.

Mississippi Coal Comments are in Red and added for commentary

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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