City Considers Mississippi Power Proposal

The city of Meridian is considering a proposal from Mississippi Power to locate power lines near the Bonita Lakes property.

It has already caused some community concerns.

Mississippi Power Company officials say the line is a critical part of the lignite coal plant project in Kemper County. The proposed site for it is not necessarily close to the lakes at Bonita, but instead parallel to Highway 45, about 50 to 60 yards off the highway.

"There will be a high altitude power line, about fifty feet in the air, and it will cross part of the property in the Bonita Lakes area," said city council president Dr. George Thomas. "It will not impact the lake. It will not be anywhere close to the lake.'

Thomas says this week Mississippi Power officials are meeting individually with council members to discuss the details.

"They would pay for the right-of-way," Thomas said. "They would pay for the timber that would have to be cut."

If approved Thomas says Mississippi Power will pay the city between $200,000 and $300,000.

"They would pay us for the right-of-way and then we would have the option of selling the timber also. So, it would be a financial benefit for the city," said Thomas.

Although the line will not actually run over Bonita Lakes, city council members are looking at exactly what impact, if any, this line could have on the park itself and its patrons.

"We've discussed with them the environmental impact." said Thomas. "Will the high powered lines running through there cause any problems? They've assured us and we've looked at studies that show, no, it will not. As far as runoffs under the lines, they've assured us and we've looked at previous projects and it will not do that. If it does that they'll reclaim the property underneath there and they'll replant it."

Mississippi Power officials will do a presentation on the proposal at the next council meeting Aug. 21 at 5 p.m. Following that, the council will decide whether or not to approve the request.

If the request is approved, Thomas says work will likely start within the next few months.

The president of Mississippi Power visited Meridian Tuesday for Business Before Hours.

Ed Day says construction at the Kemper County plant site is 40 percent finished and that the plant is on track to open in May 2014.

In a separate story, another credit rating agency has downgraded its view of Mississippi Power, because of the Kemper County coal plant project.

Moody's Investors services cut its rating on about $1 billion in company debt, down a notch last week. It now rates as A3 and says it has a negative outlook for the future.

Moody's cited the debt being incurred because of the plant, as well as the Public Service Commission denied them a rate increase to pay for it.

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