Kemper coal plant construction now expected to go into 2017

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Mississippi Power Co. now expects its Kemper County energy facility to be fully operational on lignite in January.

The utility announced late Friday that although it is possible for the plant to commercially operate by its recently projected Dec. 31 in-service date, it now expects another month’s delay.

This is “based on the current status of start-up and commissioning activities,” Mississippi Power stated in a recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

This latest delay raises the total estimated cost of the project — which is more than two years behind schedule — to nearly $7 billion.

Mississippi Power says in the filing that the company is still testing start-up and commissioning activities at the plant, and is reviewing related cost estimates.

Each month’s delay will cost roughly $25 million to $35 million per month, which does not account for future equipment or design issues that could occur down the road, the filing states.

Mississippi Power Co., a division of Atlanta-based Southern Co., said shareholders would foot the bill for added costs incurred by the delays, not customers.

These additional monthly costs come from maintaining start-up labor, materials, fuel and operational resources required to execute start-up and commissioning activities.