PSC Ruling Expected by Nov. 10

Mississippi Power presented its proposal to build a $2.2 billion lignite power plant to the Mississippi Public Service Commission last week.

Monday was the first day back in the office for Kemper economic development officials who attended the hearings.

With the first phase of hearings concluded, now officials are waiting to see when and if there will be a phase two.

"I think they demonstrated the need very well, in my opinion," said Brian Henson, executive director of the Kemper Economic Development Authority.

Henson said he feels Mississippi Power will get the green light to move on to phase two of the process.

"I think just from my interpretation and from what I heard that they proved that there's a need for the power," said Henson.

If approved, the proposed plant would use a soft coal known as lignite to fuel turbines that create electricity. Mississippi Power officials say this process would ultimately save customers money because the lignite coal is cheaper than natural gas.

Officials in Kemper County say that's just one benefit of many from the plant that would generate hundreds of jobs.

"What I like about it is that all the citizens of Kemper County, not just those with land in the area, will be getting a reduction on their tax rates," said James Granger, president of the Kemper County board of supervisors.

Officials say the plant could mean that the cost for land taxes and car tags could be cut by almost half in Kemper County.

"You go from having one of the highest ad valorem taxes in the state, and that's also attractive for us in recruiting industry in the future, because if you have a large investment plant, one of the things they'll look at will be the taxes and ours will be one of the lower ones," Henson said.

The Public Service Commission is expected to make a decision by Nov. 10 on whether there is an actual need to generate more power.

Cautiously optimistic that this is will be approved, Kemper County officials say they are looking forward to hearings in February. If it is given final approval, construction would begin in late 2010 with completion in 2014.

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant has thrown his support behind the plant. In a You Tube video released Monday, Bryant endorsed the Kemper County facility.

Bryant says the plant will create the electricity Mississippi will need for the future. He testified in favor of the plant during Public Service Commission hearings.

Bryant says he hopes the PSC will quickly approve the plant, so Mississippi Power can move forward.


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