Southern Co. CEO Defends Kemper Plant

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Pine Mountain, Ga. The head of Southern Co. says no one is happy with cost overruns at a Mississippi power plant, but he defends the project as a long-term investment.

Southern Co. CEO Tom Fanning Wednesday called the decision to absorb $540 million in costs "a bitter pill to swallow."

Still, Fanning told an annual meeting of shareholders that the lignite coal-burning plant in Mississippi's Kemper County still makes business sense.

Fanning says Mississippi would be too dependent on natural gas plants if the new coal plant were not built.

The president of Southern Co. subsidiary Mississippi Power, Ed Day, abruptly retired this week and was replaced by general council Ed Holland. Company officials say the departure was probably motivated by project pressures.