Kemper Coal Plant Nearing Completion

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The Kemper coal plant is nearing completion, but the original finish date is pushed back after some rainy weather.

The Kemper County plant began construction in 2010 and is now 80 percent complete. The plant is truly one of a kind in that it burns a special type of coal called lignite. This brown coal is a high energy output type of coal but also high pollution. But the Kemper plant has proven technology that will capture 60 percent of the carbon produced by the plant. The Kemper plant is one of the more high tech plants in the country. Its location is very strategic in the lignite it burns is present in Mississippi.

"Ours is a unique technology because it will burn the lower grade coals, the lignite coals. The other parts, and this is important, are proven technologies as well," explained Ed Holland, CEO of Mississippi Power. "The combined cycle units, the ct's, the heat recovery steam generators, we've built many of those, we synced it to the grid this weekend."

With construction of the plant comes rate increase, something that has been met with some opposition. You can't add a baseload plant without increasing rates, though, and the kemper plant is the first baseload unit to be added in 30 years. But they is a silver lining to this.

"I said you can't add baseload capacity without increasing rates when the grand gulf was built on the energy system back in the 70s, their rates went up 55 percent; today that is the best bargin on the energy Mississippi system," Holland said.

The plant's completion has been delayed beyond the original projection of May due to the rainy weather we had this summer. This delay will not cost ratepayers any additional money.