State regulators are asking a controversial energy plant to stop its clean coal work and continue producing power using natural gas. MPB's Alexis Ware reports
The Mississippi Public Service Commission is starting a process that could mark the end of the so-called clean coal experiment at the Kemper County Energy Facility. The Commission Wednesday asked its lawyers to begin drawing up an agreement that would also eliminate financial risk to Mississippi Power customers.
Brandon Presley is Chairman of the Public Service Commission. He says the request would stop increases for rate payers.
"The rate payers and citizens of South Mississippi would not be responsible for any of the costs related to the lignite coal gasifiers in the plant. We gave them 45 days to try to reach a settlement under these terms and we encourage them to reach settlement under these terms and if that time they don't, then the Commission will take further action," Presley says.
The seven-billion-dollar-plus facility is currently billions over budget and years behind schedule. Mississippi Power, which owns the Kemper facility, says in a statment, they are willing to work with the Public Service Commission.
The proposal would also re-license the embattled facility as a regular natural gas power plant exclusively. The facility already produces energy using natural gas.
Cecil Brown is the Commissioner for the Central District.
"We want them to consider whether or not Mississippi Power Company can run its plant just as a combined cycle gas plant the way it's running now natural gas to consider that as the option that we would prefer," Brown says.
The Commission will meet again on July 6th.