PSC sets hearing for Kemper Co. coal plant

Associated Press Modified: March 29, 2012 at 11:15 am •  Published: March 29, 2012

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — State utility regulators will consider issuing a temporary certificate sought by Mississippi Power Co. to continue work at its Kemper County coal-fired power plant when the Public Service Commission meets Friday in Jackson.

The meeting comes a little more than two weeks after the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the PSC failed to lay out its reasoning clearly when it eased the terms allowing Mississippi Power to build what it calls Plant Ratcliffe in Kemper County in the eastern part of the state. The key issue was not whether the plant is a good idea, but whether the PSC adequately laid out its rationale for giving Mississippi Power the permit.

Initially, the PSC had given Mississippi Power and the Sierra Club until April 2 to submit proposals. The order setting the Friday PSC meeting was issued Wednesday.

Mississippi Power, in a documents filed Wednesday with the PSC, said the temporary certificate would allow it to "continue all development and construction activities on its Kemper Project without interruption."

Louie Miller, director of the Mississippi Sierra Club, said Thursday that the PSC gave only 48 hours' notice of the hearing when state law requires 20 days' notice.

"The only time that a temporary certificate can be issued is in the case of emergencies. We don't think there is an emergency here," Miller said in a telephone news conference.

Miller said Mississippi Power put itself in a difficult position when it ignored the lawsuit and continued to build. He said Mississippi Power Co. was left in a quandary after the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled against it March 15.

"It put the company and the PSC in a bind," Miller said. "This is all about protecting Mississippi Power Co. not protecting the ratepayers. It is unacceptable."

Miller said the Sierra Club asked the PSC to go back to the beginning of the permit process and review all the information and any new data filed on the project.

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