Study Finds Kemper County Coal Plant Over-Budget, Behind Schedule

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Construction continues on the Kemper County Lignite Coal Plant, and according to Mississippi Power it is about 70% complete, and scheduled to open in May 2014, but this project doesn't come without any opponents. Louie Miller, director of the state Sierra Club has tried to block construction of the plant or have it switched to natural gas because he believes the plant will cost too much, and this form of coal burning isn't tested or proven.

Mississippi Power Spokesperson Jeff Shephard disagrees and says, "The Sierra Club's assertions are just another example of this out-of-state, special interest group's attempt to stop this project. The project is creating jobs and will provide low-cost electricity to benefit Mississippi Power customers for decades."

When the project was first approved in 2010, costs were capped at $2.4 Billion, but that cap has recently been raised to $2.88 Billion, and some fear that it could go as high as $3 Billion. Since this project is funded by Mississippi Power customers, that means a rate increase anywhere from 30 to 45 percent, and for Tammy Lee who opened a store and restaurant just down the road from the plant, says that right now they are doing really well, but a rate hike could be bad for business.

"Breakfast and Lunch are good, and we have a good evening crowd, but We'd have to go up a little bit on some of the stuff [if there was a rate hike] to equal things out."

As the project nears completion, Mississippi Power will issue monthly cost and schedule reports.