Kemper negotiations stalled but regulators are ready to deal

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Two weeks past a key deadline to strike an agreement over the $7.5 billion-plus Kemper County energy facility, Mississippi utility regulators say they’re ready to make Mississippi Power Co. another offer.

At issue is Mississippi Power’s desire to recover $250 million more from customers than regulators had in mind for operating the natural gas portion of the plant that is servicing customers.

Virden Jones, executive director of the public utilities staff, said the agency intends to make the unit of Atlanta-based Southern Company another offer Friday, but  did not provide details on what the offer would include.

Once that happens, Mississippi Power can agree to those terms or not. If the company balks, the Mississippi Public Service Commission will decide what it wants to do from there, Jones said.

Negotiations began on July 6 when the commission ordered the company to steer the plant away from its clean coal technology by only operating the plant as a natural gas facility, which the plant has done in part since 2014. Mississippi Power had until August 21 to file a settlement proposal.

Mississippi Power submitted its proposal that day saying it is not fighting the commission’s decision, and would comply with its wishes. However, regulators and Mississippi Power still have to agree on which project costs will be placed in its rate base, a major factor in determining what Mississippi Power customers will pay for the plant’s services from at least Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018.

Meanwhile, Mississippi Power has said it is not sure if the company can continue its same level of service and community involvement if the settlement it filed with supporting parties is not approved.

Other parties involved in its settlement proposal include Denbury Resources Inc.; Central Mississippi Building and Construction Trades Council; East Mississippi Business Development Corporation; and Ministerial Alliance Partnership.

  • Charles Pearce

    Hey, Southern Company, dismantle all of your energy technology in Kemper County and haul it back to Atlanta. It’s yours, not ours.