Mississippi Power makes its case

KEMPER COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI - Mississippi Power will argue its case for a lignite coal plant in east Mississippi before the state public service commission soon. Right now, it's trying to make the case to the public.

That plant, if it is approved, will be built in Kemper County, near the Liberty community.

It could provide hundreds of jobs, but it will have to jump some hurdles first.

Mississippi Power has been crisscrossing the state, trying to make the case that the plant is needed, and that it will help customers in this state. Mississippi Power CEO Anthony Topazi was in Meridian recently.

For Mississippi Power, the proposed electric generating plant in Kemper County is a large undertaking. Officials say every detail has been thoroughly planned, all the way down to the location.

“And that's where the lignite is," said Topazi. "And the beauty of this plant is, we're going to use Mississippi lignite to fuel the generation of electricity. It's going to be an extremely beneficial proposition with Mississippi lignite being low in cost and very stable to make electricity for my customers.”

Topazi and the commission said the need for the plant came from two main reasons. One being that the demand for power is still growing.

"The other part of our need comes from having an aging fleet of generating units, some of them 65 to 69 years old that simply are at the end of their economic life," Topazi said.

Now in the midst of a recession, the plant would also provide new job opportunities. These jobs would be both permanent and temporary.

"The plant itself will be staffed with about 80 or 85 full-time employees," said Topazi. "The mining operation will be staffed with about 200 employees. So once it's built and operational, direct employment at the plant site will be about 280 to 300. During construction, it will on average have 500 people on the job site, will peak at about 1,000 people."

There are some concerns about the proposed plant when it comes to the environment. Topazi said the plant would be the cleanest coal plant in America. He told us that the plant would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 65 percent.



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