The state Supreme Court is being asked to stop an emergency rate increase associated with the construction of Mississippi Power's Kemper County Coal Plant.
Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court ordered Mississippi Power Company to refund customers nearly $350 million for a rate increase that was deemed illegal. The refunds placed the utility provider in a financial crisis, so state regulators approved an 18 percent emergency rate hike to help the company until prudency hearings can be heard later this year.
That action has led opponents of Mississippi Power to ask the state Supreme Court to once again step in and reverse the increase. Thomas Blanton of Hattiesburg is a candidate for the Public Service Commission in the Southern District. He filed the motion.
"There is a wave of lawlessness sweeping across our state due to politically protected crimes," says Blanton. "The court has said, they had no authority under the law. Everything they've done, Mississippi Power has been allowed to do, violates the law."
Jeff Shepard is a spokesman for Mississippi Power. He says the Public Service Commission is within their rights to grant the utility provider permission to temporarily increase rates.
"We believe his filing is baseless and without merit," says Shepard. "We believe the Public Service Commission has the clear, legal authority to grant emergency rates, and the overwhelming evidence in the record supports the P.S.C. decision. We hope the court will see this as what it is, another frivolous attempt to keep Mississippi Power from collecting rates of any kind while the Kemper Project is under construction.
Utility regulators will hold hearings in November to determine the prudency of the Kemper County Coal Plant's $6.2 billion price tag.