Mississippi Power CEO & President Ed Holland wrote an opinion piece in the Clarion Ledger this month, outlining his company’s commitment to the Kemper Plant. The full text of the article from the Clarion Ledger is below, and can be accessed here.
In response to your editorial, “Mississippi Power should cover overrun costs,” I want to make it clear that we are not asking our customers to cover any “overrun” construction costs for the Kemper County energy facility. We recognize that it has been difficult for us to accurately forecast cost and schedule, and the company has, rightfully so, been paying all of those costs above what is authorized by the Mississippi Public Service Commission.
I want to point out that things are working. While the full project is not complete, our customers are already benefiting from the plant’s construction. Since August the combined cycle unit has been in operation, meaning it has been generating electricity to serve our customers’ needs during the peak summer season. Since beginning operation, the plant has had a reliability rate that is nearly four times better than the industry average for combined cycles.
Yes, the schedule to complete this first-of-its-kind facility has been significantly delayed to the first half of 2016. The company has extremely high operational standards, and we will not cut corners. We are encouraged by the skilled talent we are hiring at the plant from the power generation and petrochemical industry. We believe it is critical to take advantage of the specialized technical experience of these employees, while ensuring they are fully trained in all the systems, procedures and operations that are unique to this plant and it takes time to do so.
We are currently working on the two most complex systems of the project: the gasifier and the gas clean-up systems of the facility. These two systems are key long-term value drivers for our customers, as the ability to use Mississippi lignite — along with the capture and sale of byproducts like CO2 — are both key to delivering reliable, low-cost energy to our customers.
This first-of-its kind technology requires all aspects of the project to be constantly and thoroughly evaluated to ensure it is completed safely for the long-term benefit of our customers. Running plants reliably — among the best in the industry — is a hallmark of what we do at Mississippi Power. And our commitment to safety has already been demonstrated as the permanent employees for this facility recently marked four years without an accident.
I’m proud of the work that has been done on this project. We will continue to work diligently toward its successful completion. And once we get past start-up and integration — which will no doubt include many challenges — we expect this facility to provide our customers with safe, reliable electricity for decades to come.
You stated that the plant, when finished, could be “…a revolutionary step forward in energy production.” I would agree. When it is ready to be commissioned, it will be a monument to the hard work and dedication of Mississippians who are working on the plant. It will also serve to make the state of Mississippi a beacon in global energy solutions.