Mississippi Power says it will proceed with a plan to build a lignite coal plant in Kemper County.
Local reaction to a revised decision by the Mississippi Public Service Commission is positive.
The PSC had already approved a project to build a lignite coal plant in Kemper County, but had attached some restrictions.
Now Mississippi Power says it will formally accept the terms of the PSC order allowing for the construction of a state-of-the-art power plant in Kemper County.
“After a comprehensive review of yesterday’s order, we have determined the stringent conditions that the commission imposed will still allow us to move forward to finance and construct the plant,” said Tommy Anderson, Mississippi Power vice president of Generation Development. “While this was not what was requested, we view this order as one we can accept and it will allow us to be able to unlock the tremendous value the Kemper County IGCC Project brings to our customers.”
The company said "the proposed 582-megawatt plant is expected to come online by 2014 and will use lignite, a low-cost energy source found in Mississippi. This energy source will be added to Mississippi Power’s existing fuel mix of natural gas and coal and will allow the company and its customers to avoid the volatility and growing costs associated with other fuels."
For Meridian officials, this is great news. Not only would the plant be a huge economic boost to DeKalb and Kemper County, but Lauderdale County would also reap the benefits.
Because Mississippi Power hasn't released a statement, East Mississippi Business Development Corporation president Wade Jones says he's optimistic this means the plant will move forward.
Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry says she's also glad to hear the news because Meridian is actually getting paid for the city's gray water to help run the plant. It will be piped to Kemper County.
"We'll be selling gray water to them from our north and south plant, 7 cents for every thousand gallons, which will be around $100,000 to $150,000 yearly," said Barry.
"Certainly it is going to have a significant impact on Kemper County, but I think we have to understand this 65-mile radius we call the trade area, I think that is where the impact will be felt," said Jones.
Mayor Barry says she has been in communication with Mississippi Power through the process, and says she will do anything she can to help move the project forward.