Cecil's Plans for the PSC
Thorough Investigation of Wrongdoings
Cecil knows that Mississippi families expect better than what the've been given in Kemper County. Southern Company and its local affiliate Mississippi Power launched a massive 15-story science experiment in De Kalb promising the people of Mississippi a unicorn: clean coal. That project is now $4.3 billion over budget and two years over due...and the cost is rising every day.
Faced with the results of poor planning, allegations of shoddy workmanship and the withdraw of investors, Southern Company is turning to Mississippi families to shoulder the burden of their mistakes.
In August, the Mississippi Public Service Commission voted 2-1 to allow Mississippi Power rates to increase by 18 percent to cover the costs at Kemper. They've said they may need to ask for up to 40 percent to make the plan solvent.
Let's be clear about that: By a 2-1 vote, your representatives on the Public Service Commission are allowing your power bill to increase every month to cover the bottom line for a major corporation.
This Kemper plant project was originally marketed by Southern Company as a cutting-edge, clean-coal technology that would save Mississippi families money and be better for air quality. They said the plant would be the first of its kind in the world, with a cost of $1.8 billion, and would be up and running by 2013. According to The Associated Press, the company also said it would not pass any extra costs on to its customers.
Now it is 2015, and the plant isn’t fully functional. The $1.8 billion price tag has ballooned to an astounding $6.2 billion and the costs keep climbing. Recently the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that there should have been more transparency in the process and ordered $257 million in rate increases to be returned to customers. The PSC’s answer to the Supreme Court was to vote for a rate increase in the same amount as the refund the court ordered.
In September, Southern Company and Mississippi Power announced that the Kemper Plant would miss yet another deadline--this time costing $234 million in tax credits that would be obligated to return to the IRS.
This means an additional $20 million each month--$7 million for operating costs and $13 million for financing costs--beginning in March that will be paid by Mississippi families and small businesses.
Another hearing on an additional rate increase is scheduled for this November--so your vote in this race is critical to ensure Mississippi families are protected from these outrageous costs.
The Kemper Plant is nothing but a giant science experiment. Southern Company has made mistake after mistake in both the planning and the implementation of this project, and their customers should not have to pay for it.
Unbelievably, as Mississippi families are bearing the burden for the Kemper multi-billion dollar boondoggle, Southern Company recently announced it will pay $12 billion to acquire AGL Resources, the largest natural-gas-only distribution company in the United States, making Southern Co. the second-largest utility provider in the nation. A Southern Co. spokesman said a large part of the company’s motive for purchasing AGL Resources was the ongoing trend away from coal in America. Southern Company has also recently purchased their seventh solar plant in California and their fifth wind farm in Oklahoma, laying out billions of dollars for new acquisitions while refusing to finish the job they started here in Mississippi.
Southern Company is asking Mississippi customers to spend billions on a coal plant in Kemper County while the company is abandoning coal everywhere else.
This isn’t about coal versus natural gas. It’s not about ratepayers versus utility companies. It’s about right versus wrong. The current Public Service Commission should not make any more decisions about Kemper and rate increases. If Cecil Brown is elected in November, we will have a Public Service Commission that represents Mississippi families, not the utility companies.