Delayed Again, Kemper County IGCC Plant to Start Operations in a Month

Mississippi Power’s integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant under construction in Kemper County, Miss., will likely be placed in service by November 30, a month later than anticipated. The delay will be costly.

Mississippi Power reached a new milestone on September 16, announcing that it had started producing syngas using the second gasifier—gasifier “A”—at the facility. Initial production of syngas at gasifier “B” began on July 14, demonstrating the viability of transport integrated gasification technology, which is being used for the first time at commercial scale, Southern Co. said in a statement.

In late August, however, gasifier B was taken offline for inspection, the company said in an October 3 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“The removal of ash and ash deposits prior to the inspection of gasifier ‘B’ required more time than initially expected. Additional time has been added to the schedule to allow for the restart of gasifier ‘B’ and for both gasifier trains to achieve the sustained capacity levels necessary for the initial operations and testing of the syngas clean-up systems and the production of electricity using syngas,” it said.

The delay adds $33 million to the plant’s cost estimate subject to a cost cap. That includes adjustments for about $5 million for the month of August related to repairs and modifications to gasifier B and mechanical improvements to coal feed and ash management systems. It also factors in about $28 million related to the extension of the expected in-service date.

This means that total project costs have now climbed to $6.9 billion—or nearly $2.58 billion more than a cost cap approved by Mississippi regulators in 2012.

Fueled by locally mined lignite, the 582-MW plant will also capture its carbon emissions and transport them via pipeline infrastructure for use in enhanced oil recovery.

The project’s original cost estimate outlined in a 2012 certificate of public convenience and necessity order was $2.4 billion, net of $245 million in grants awarded to the project by the Energy Department under the Clean Coal Power Initiative Round 2. That figure didn’t include the cost of the lignite mine and equipment and the cost of the carbon dioxide pipeline facilities.

The project was originally projected to be placed into service in May 2014. Mississippi Power put the combined cycle and other common facilities online by August 2014 but has experienced difficulty placing the gasifiers in operation.

Workers at the facility will now focus on “proceeding toward operation at sustained capacity levels necessary for completion of the activities for the initial operations and testing of the syngas clean-up systems and the production of electricity using syngas,” the company said. “Ahead of using the syngas as fuel, it will be burned off using the plant’s flare stacks.”


Sonal Patel, associate editor (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)


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