Kemper plant hearing officially postponed

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The Mississippi Public Service Commission has canceled its hearing process set to begin Monday regarding the Kemper County energy facility.

The announcement came on the same day state utility regulators reached an agreement with Mississippi Power Co. and other involved parties over what costs the company can recover from the fallout of its $7.5 billion-plus Kemper County energy facility project.

During the nearly five-month process, the parties worked on settling the difference between what regulators thought Mississippi Power should recover and what the utility believed it should be able to charge customers, among other things.

At one point, the sticking point was a $250 million difference. The latest stipulation document filed with the commission Friday says that staff, Mississippi Power, Chevron Products Co., The Chemours Co. and others conclude the unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. should collect an estimated $112.6 million annually – or around $900.8 million total – in rates over a period of eight years starting Jan. 2018 – for its in-service assets and liabilities.

According to a filing submitted Friday and signed by Frank Farmer, general counsel of the Mississippi Public Service Commission, the commission plans to set deadlines for other parties to file comments on the latest stipulation document and related procedures within the week.

“The commission will take up consideration of the December 1 Stipulation, and finds that additional time is required before a hearing on the December 1 Stipulation can be held,” the commission filing states.

Mississippi Power late last week released a statement saying the company expects “significant changes” to occur if this latest stipulation document is approved.

“Putting the gasifier portion of Kemper that did not meet our expectations behind us is in the best interest of our customers, company and the state,” said Mississippi Power President and CEO Anthony Wilson in a statement. “We are pleased to continue operating an efficient natural gas facility at Kemper which has been serving our customers for more than three years.”

The company expects the commission to issue a final order on the Kemper plant in January.

“As we adjust to this considerable loss of revenue, our top priority will be to maintain safe and reliable service to our customers,” Wilson said.