House approves bills backing Kemper settlement

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 8, 2013 at 5:56 pm •  Published: February 8, 2013
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Kemper opponent Sierra Club says the bill allows Mississippi Power to break the $2.88 billion cap that had earlier been applied to construction of the plant.

"This is an end-run around the construction cap on Kemper County," said Sierra Club state director Louie Miller. "Where is the incentive to control costs? It's gone."

Ed Day, president of the Gulfport-based company, said in an interview Wednesday that Mississippi Power currently plans to sell $700 million to $800 million in bonds. Of that amount, $488 million would be the amount between $2.4 billion and $2.88 billion. The rest would be for interest accumulated on the money Mississippi Power has already borrowed for the plant. The company has already spent $2 billion on Kemper.

Day said he wouldn't count the $300 million or so in accumulated interest as part of the plant's cost, saying it's like counting mortgage interest as part of a house's price.

Lane offered nine unsuccessful amendments to the bill. One aimed to change a part of the bill that says anyone except Mississippi Power who wants to appeal a decision of the PSC on the bonds has to post an appeal bond equal to the money the PSC finds bonding will save customers.

Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, suggested it could void all lawsuits. "As a practical matter, nobody can ask for a judicial review," Brown said. "Nobody can determine an amount."

The Sierra Club has sued multiple times over Kemper.

Beckett defended the bill's provisions that make it almost impossible for outsiders to challenge the PSC's decision or for the PSC to change its mind once it rules in favor of bonds. "The customer will lose the rate reduction if you just want to keep it tied up forever and ever and ever," he warned.

One amendment was successful, though. Rep. Kevin Horan, D-Grenada, successfully changed the bill to limit lawyers' fees associated with what could be a huge bond issue to $500,000.

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Online:

House Bill 1134: http://bit.ly/Z0t10p

House Bill 894: http://bit.ly/YKQ5fU

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Follow Jeff Amy at http://twitter.com/jeffamy

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