Senate sends Kemper settlement bills to governor

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 14, 2013 at 4:43 pm •  Published: February 14, 2013
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Sen. Tommy Gollott, R-Biloxi, said the rate increase is still too high.

"That's going to be a terrible, terrible increase for my people in south Mississippi," Gollott said.

The Sierra Club, which opposes the Kemper plant, says the bill allows Mississippi Power to break the $2.88 billion cap that had been placed on plant construction costs. Mississippi Power says it plans to sell $700 million to $800 million in bonds. Of that amount, $488 million would be for 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.

One part of the settlement legislation 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, which the Sierra Club says will make appeals prohibitively costly.

As contemplated in the settlement, the Supreme Court agreed Thursday to dismiss Mississippi Power's appeal of the PSC's denial to begin collecting money during construction. However, justices asked more questions about a suit by Thomas Blanton, a Hattiesburg oilman and former PSC candidate. He argued last month that it's unconstitutional for Mississippi Power to collect money before the plant begins running.

The court asked all parties in the case to further discuss the issues Blanton raised, as well as to say whether his arguments should be considered now. Briefs on the questions are due by early next month.

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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