House Approves Bills Backing Kemper Settlement

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House members are blessing a settlement between the Public Service Commission and Mississippi Power Co. over the company's Kemper County plant.

The House voted 90-26 Friday to allow Mississippi Power to sell up to $1 billion in bonds to pay for construction and financing costs over $2.4 billion. The body voted 100-17 to let the PSC approve a multi-year rate plan for the plant.

The measures go to the Senate, where similar bills pend.

The settlement between the unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. and the PSC says Mississippi Power may only earn profit on $2.4 billion in plant construction costs as well as lignite mine and pipeline costs.

The utility would sell bonds for anything above $2.4 billion. Ratepayers would repay debt, but the company would make no profit.

"Today’s action by the House takes us one step closer to saving Mississippi Power customers $1 billion or more." said Mississippi Power spokeswoman Cindy Duvall. "The Kemper County energy facility is creating thousands of good-paying jobs, contributing over $70 million in taxes and will continue to add tremendous value to customers and to the economy of the region over the life of the plant. This is a Mississippi project, using Mississippi resources and Mississippi labor in developing clean, efficient, low-cost Mississippi-fueled energy."