Kemper cost goes up $38M, start date pushed back again

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Mississippi Power Co. will need another month to address ongoing challenges at its Kemper County energy facility, specifically with its gasifiers, each gasifier’s ash removal systems, the plant’s sour water system and sustaining operations overall.

The utility, a unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co., announced in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday that it expects the remainder of the plant to become fully operational by May 31. The plant, which is running on natural gas, was at one point supposed to go into full operation running on syngas by May 2014.

The plant’s cost will also go up about $38 million, bringing the plant’s total cost to nearly $7.3 billion, Mississippi Power said. The added costs include about $22 million related to extending the project’s schedule; $8 million related to start-up fuel and $8 million related to the plant’s current repair outage.

Mississippi Power in early April said the project’s schedule would conclude April 30. The utility is now announcing another schedule delay so it can repair a leak within a device related to one of its gasifiers; make modifications to its gasifiers’ ash removal systems, repair the plant’s sour water system and sustain operation of both gasifiers for the production of electricity from syngas, or synthesis gas.

As for what the public pays, there currently is a $2.88 billion cap for Mississippi Power customers. Any increase beyond that depends on Mississippi Public Service Commission approval, a process that will start when the company submits its new rate case to the commission on June 3.

Mississippi Power says it does not intend to charge its ratepayers for any construction-related costs for the Kemper County facility that exceed the $2.88 billion cost cap.