Days after the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed an order by the Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) granting a key permit to Mississippi Power’s 582-MW integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) Kemper power plant, the PSC voted to temporarily allow the Southern Co. subsidiary to continue construction of the plant in Kemper County, Miss.
The Supreme Court ruled on March 14 that the PSC’s order to grant the project a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity did not cite detailed evidence with which the court could determine the commission’s basis for granting the permit. The court remanded the case back the PSC, effectively placing the $2.8 billion project’s future in limbo.
But in a Friday meeting—which, according to Biloxi television station WLOX13 lasted less than a minute—the PSC voted 2-1 to give the utility temporary construction authority. Southern District Commissioner Leonard Bentz and Central District Commissioner Lynn Posey, both Republicans, voted to continue the project. Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley, a Democrat, voted against it.
“This action allows us to continue construction of the Kemper Project,” said Jeff Shepard, Mississippi Power spokesman. “Any delays to this project would mean significant costs to our customers. [This] ruling means we can continue building a sound energy future for our customers.”
The Kemper County IGCC plant has to date been awarded more than $680 million in federal funding, including $270 million from the Department of Energy’s clean coal initiative. It is designed to burn Mississippi lignite. Mississippi Power said it would continue to provide the PSC with information as needed to address the Supreme Court ruling.
Sources: POWERnews, Miss. Supreme Court, WLOX13