State regulators are starting a 45 day clock that could put an end to a once promising energy technology. MPB's Alexis Ware reports.
Mississippi Power Company, which owns Kemper County Energy Facility, has 45 days to come to a settlement with Mississippi Public Service Commission. The company had hoped the plant would become the first of its kind using so called clean coal technology. Kemper is now years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.
The Public Service Commission wants the company to re-license the facility as a natural gas power plant. Part of the plant currently produces energy using natural gas.
Commission Chairman Brandon Presley says the facility should be solely responsible for funding the new technology.
"Nothing in this settlement will say that they can't continue to with their own capital and their own dollars exploring the lignite gasification. They can do that. What we're dealing with today is what are the customers of Mississippi Power Co. responsible for paying for."
The Commission's proposal calls for no rate increases for Mississippi Power customers.
Thomas Blanton of Hattiesburg says he has opposed the Kemper facility since 2009.
"There's enough natural gas in this country for a hundred years operation of Mississippi Power. My prediction is true. Here it is eight years later and if they had just done that we could have had this thing up and running five years ago and our power bills would have gone down a lot."
A state negotiator says Mississippi Power wants to settle and approves of the Public Service Commission's terms.