Kemper Co. coal plant expected to be on-line in coming weeks

Published: Jan. 13, 2017 at 2:36 PM CST
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Work on Mississippi Power Company's Lignite Coal Plant in Kemper County started in late 2010. It's now just over six years and $7 billion dollars later, and the plant is expected to be fully operational by the end of this month.

"Right now what we're doing is getting all of the systems at the plant to work simultaneously together," says company spokesman, Jeff Shephard. "This is the first time that this is being done. So, it's taking us longer. The main thing is that we are not going to sacrifice safety for the schedule."

The plant is comprised of three distinct divisions. The first is where the syngas is made. It's cleaned in the second area, and electricity is actually made in the third. Since July of last year, company officials have been conducting tests within all three areas. What they're doing now is trying to get the three to work at the same.

"We have been producing electricity for Mississippi Power customers since August 2014 by using natural gas here," says Shephard. "Mississippi Power has absorbed about $2.6 billion of project cost right now that we will never go back and ask our customers to pay for."

During the construction phase about 6,000 people were working at the site. Currently, there are roughly 1,000 there. Once the plant goes on-line anywhere from 500 to 600 people are expected to work there.

"We're going to get this plant on-line safely," says Shephard. "It's going to benefit our customers and Mississippi, and really the energy industry as a whole for decades to come."

Here's a breakdown of the cost for the plant:

1. The initial cost was just over $2 billion.

2. The current price is $7.2 billion.

3. $2.66 billion of that money will not be paid by customers.

4. $4.2 billion is the total amount that is eligible to be recovered from customers.