Mississippi Power says it may have to raise customer rates as much as 41 percent if the state Supreme Court doesn’t re-consider its recent decision rolling back the rate increases already made for the new Kemper County power plant.
As MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, some worry what these rate hikes may mean for the company's 186,000 customers.
Mississippi Power has asked for a re-hearing of the Supreme Court decision, but in the meantime, the company has filed three rate plans with the Public Service Commission - one if a refund is not imposed, with a 24 percent total rate increase, and two alternate plans if the refund is required, where rates would increase by as much as 41 percent.
Power company spokesman Jeff Shepard says their preferred option is the first one.
"The reason why we prefer that option is because it has the least effect on customers," he said. "The majority of that increase has already been put in place. It was enacted in January 2013 and in the beginning of 2014 as well."
The company also says if the Public Service Commission doesn’t make a decision within 120 days, it will put in place the higher increases temporarily under bond, so they'll be subject to refund.
Howard Page of the Steps Coalition argues Mississippi Power pushed hard for permission to build the plant, despite concerns by some at the time about the kind of rate increases that are now being seen, which he calls a great blow to the Mississippi gulf coast.
"All three plans are basically a nightmare - they hurt the ratepayers, they hurt small businesses, they hurt large businesses, they hurt the economy in general, and they hurt property values," Page says. "Because one of the things you look at when you buy a piece of property is what's the cost in the area."
The current cost of the plant is $6.2 billion. It's expected to be fully online in the first half of 2016.