Sierra Club asks Public Service Commission to reject $45 million in upgrades at Coast power plant

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Charlie Riedel / Associated Press / File

High voltage electric transmission lines

Sierra Club is requesting that the Public Service Commission reject proposed projects for a coal-fired plant in Moss Point. The group argues that Plant Victor Daniel no longer has any value, and that the $45 million in projects, which PSC must approve, is an unnecessary cost to pass onto ratepayers.

The commission granted Sierra Club’s request for a public hearing, which will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24, at the Woolfolk State Office Building in Jackson.

A spokesperson for Mississippi Power, which operates the plant, said that the $45 million in projects are required to comply with federal environmental standards.

“Plant Daniel continues to provide tremendous value for our customers”, spokesperson Jeff Shepard said via email.

Sierra Club argues that Plant Daniel “costs much more to operate than reliable clean alternatives.”

“Nearly five years ago, the Company dumped millions of dollars into the plant in a last-ditch, failed effort to extend its life,” said Louie Miller, Director of Sierra Club Mississippi, in the release. “It’s now more uneconomic than before, yet the company wants to throw good money after bad.

“It’s time to cut these losses and move on. We urge the Commission to exercise its authority and conduct a thorough investigation into whether this is a wise, or necessary, investment before asking customers to hand over more of their hard earned dollars.”

The plant was built in 1977 and  generates over 1,000 MW of electricity when running at maximum capacity. Florida utility company Gulf Power owns a 50 percent share of Plant Daniel, and, according to the release, already has plans to retire its portion of the plant.

A March report from The Environmental Integrity Project examining coal ash pollution found that groundwater near Plant Daniel showed five times the safe amount lithium.