Kemper FAQ


What is the Kemper County energy facility?

To begin, the Kemper County energy facility has several different names. Aside from being coined the Kemper County Energy Facility, it is also referred to as the Kemper Project, the Kemper Coal Plant, Plant Ratcliffe, Southern Company Kemper County IGCC Plant, Kemper IGCC Project, Kemper County Lignite Facility, and Kemper IGCC. The Kemper County Energy Facility is located in Kemper County, Mississippi (approximately 20 miles north of Meridian.)

The Kemper County Energy Facility will demonstrate TRIG™ (Transport Integrated Gasification), a coal gasification process developed jointly by Southern Company and KBR in partnership with the US Department of Energy (DOE). TRIG™ was a 15 year plus development effort at the Power Systems Development Facility (PSDF) in Alabama (now the National Carbon Capture Center), where the technology operated successfully for over 20,000 hours at pilot scale. The Kemper County Energy Facility will utilize two commercial-scale TRIG™ units to gasify lignite, low-rank coal that is mined next to the facility, to produce syngas. After the syngas leaves the gasifiers, it will be cleaned and used to fuel two combined-cycle power generating units each with a net output of 582-megawatts of electricity.

What Materials are Being used to Build the Kemper County Energy Facility?

  • Approximately 109,000 cubic yards of concrete. That’s approximately 19,000 concrete trucks!
  • Approximately 40,000 tons of structural steel. That’s as much as 12,000 large pickup trucks.
  • Approximately 908,000 linear feet of above-ground piping. That’s the distance from Meridian to Biloxi!
  • The gasifier weighs approximately 550 tons, that’s equal to the weight of approximately 11 Statues of Liberty.
  • 60 miles of new transmission lines.
  • Kemper County energy facility uses 12,112,184 ft of cable, that’s the length of the Mississippi River!
  • The heaviest piece of equipment at the Kemper Plant was transported by a vehicle with 796 wheels!
  • The bucket on the dragline at Kemper holds 100,000 tons. That’s the equivalent of 4,500 school buses!

What Are The Benefits of the Kemper County Energy Facility?

Mississippi Power CEO Ed Holland explains:

“The lignite will be gasified and the resulting syngas will be burned to generate the electricity. The process will generate considerably lower amounts of CO2 and other emissions. The CO2 will be sold to companies like Denbury Resources for use in enhanced oil recovery operations, resulting in US $2 billion in revenues from CO2 sales over 40 years.”

A local blog puts the Kemper Project on the scale of global importance, mitigating potential conflicts over energy. The blog specifically points to Kemper’s use of local resources and the revolutionary Carbon Capture & Sequestration (CCS) technology:

The Kemper Coal Plant is crucial to the future of coal as a domestic energy resource. According to Jonathon Pershing, U.S. Department of Energy, “CCS technology is central to the continued reliance on coal for American power.” General Lawson, deputy commander in chief, Headquarters U.S. European Command, Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany, cited that the potential impact of Kemper on global energy security and the ripple effect that success might have on obviating future global conflicts.

Why Does Mississippi Need the Kemper County energy facility?

For many reasons but, the main reason is the need to deliver safe, reliable electricity for customers now and in the future. As older generating units are retired due to age or to achieve environmental regulations, the Kemper County energy facility will be the solution for delivering affordable electricity for years to come! The Kemper Coal Plant will be the first Mississippi Power baseload power plant (which produce energy at a constant, low cost rate) in over 30 years.

What Fuels the Kemper County energy facility?

Lignite! Lignite is a yellow to dark brown (rarely black) coal that formed from peat at shallow depths and temperatures lower than 212 °F. Most lignite is geologically young, having formed during the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras (approximately 251 million years ago to the present) and is the first product of coalification and is intermediate between peat and subbituminous coal.

About 79% of lignite is used to generate electricity, 13.5% is used to generate synthetic natural gas, and 7.5% is used to produce fertilizer products (anhydrous ammonia & ammonium sulfate).

Lignite is more accessible than other types of coal because lignite veins are located relatively near the surface, eliminating the need for underground excavation in tunnels. It is estimated that nearly half of the world’s total proven coal reserves are made up of lignite and subbituminous coal. Lignite generated energy is abundant, accessible and has many benefits including; low-cost, reliability, and environmental compatibility.

Why Does The Kemper energy facility Use Lignite?

The Kemper Plant investment can be attributed to the need for a diverse energy portfolio. According to the investing company, Mississippi Power Company, Mississippi lignite will provide decades of low-cost fuel, avoiding massive price swings associated with unpredictable fuel markets. With a 4-billion-ton reserve in Mississippi, Mississippi Power Company can secure a stable fuel source while reducing dependence on foreign fuel.

A 4 billion ton reserve? To put that into perspective, a whale weighs about 1 ton. Because lignite is so abundant, it is predicted that Mississippi will benefit from this energy source for hundreds of years. The dome at the Kemper Plant holds up to 100,000 tons of lignite.

What Are the Economic Benefits of The Kemper County Energy Facility?

During the current construction phase, the Kemper plant has created approximately 12,000 direct and indirect local positions. Once operations begin, it is predicted that there will be three hundred permanent personnel. Employment at the plant provides an enormous economic boost to the state of Mississippi.

Craig Hitt, Kemper County Economic Development Authority executive director cited “properties have been purchased, properties have been leased, landowners, if they haven’t already, will see the benefits.”

Kemper County administrator Andrew Smith stated that the Kemper Plant has been “a blessing.” According to Smith, the county saw $8.12 million in tax revenue just from the plant. One-third of that went to the Kemper County School District, and the remaining percent benefits areas like road and bridge improvement, the recreational park, EMCC and taking care of past debt.

$75 million in state and local taxes are being generated during the construction phase and $30 million will be generated annually over the lifetime of the plant.

“Built for Mississippians, by Mississippians,” more than 500 Mississippi companies have a significant role in the construction phase of the Kemper Project.