Hearings Wrap on Lignite Proposal

By: Ashley Conroy
By: Ashley Conroy

A week-long series of hearings by the Mississippi Public Service Commission ended in protest Friday.

Some people call the plan to build a lignite plant in Kemper County dirty, expensive and unnecessary.

"Mississippi Power is a regulated monopoly. And it's time the PSC step up to the plate and put them in a competitive environment," said Louie Miller, senior regional representative of the Sierra Club.

The company is asking for customers to pay now for construction costs, even though construction would not begin until 2014.

"It is nothing, but a Ponzi scheme, that imminent domains the check books of Mississippi rate payers," said Linda Martin of Mississippi for Affordable Energy.

For those who support the plant, it's an avenue for creating new jobs in the state and recovery for the state's economy.

"And so while there is some cost to building the plant, long term you're looking at what will this save over a period of time," said Blake Wilson, president and CEP of the Mississippi Economic Council.

Protesters also say they're concerned the project will be an environmental hazard to the state.

Mississippi Power says this isn't the case, and that energy generated from this plant would be clean coal, and one of Mississippi's natural resources, lignite. They say it will be the first of its kind for energy in Mississippi.

"This plant is going to be the first in the world to capture 65-percent carbon. That is unprecedented in our industry," said Cindy Duvall, spokesperson for Mississippi Power.

The PSC says it's not making any final decision before May 1. Until then, it's considering all options including the environmental impact of building and constructing this plant. It it accepts the project, construction is slated to start in 2014.

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