Work to continue as PSC works on plant details

By Data Stream

Associated Press, daily journal
JACKSON – Mississippi Power Co. said Friday that it will continue construction of a $2.7 billion coal power plant in the eastern part of the state and is confident regulators and courts will green light the deal.
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday that state regulators failed to lay out their reasoning clearly when they eased the financial terms under which the power company could build what it calls Plant Ratcliffe in Kemper County.
The court told the Public Service Commission to clarify how it decided to allow construction last year. The Sierra Club sought to persuade the Supreme Court to derail the plant.
In a statement Friday, Mississippi Power said the PSC supported construction at the time the order was issued, “and nothing has occurred since the order which should cause the Commission to reverse its decision granting the Certificate.”
The key issue was not whether the plant is a good idea, but whether the PSC adequately laid out its rationale.
“We are confident there is substantial evidence in the record to support the Commission’s approval of the Certificate,” said Jeff Shepard, a company spokesman. “It is our hope and expectation that the Commission will address this expeditiously. We intend to continue construction of this facility to provide our customers with a sound energy future and unlock the facility’s substantial customer benefits.”
Supreme Court Presiding Justice Jess Dickinson wrote that the absence of specific findings clouded the PSC’s decision. Dickinson said without such details the court cannot determine if the PSC decision was supported by the evidence.
Mississippi Power Co. attorneys were reviewing the ruling, said company spokesman Jeff Shepard.
Company President and CEO Ed Day was in Tupelo on Friday to speak to the Kiwanis Club. He said the plant would provide rate stability in the long run for Mississippi Power customers by diversifying the company’s fuel sources and is “a huge economic development project for the state.”
The project now has 1,400 workers on site and will make a direct $500 million impact on 220 Mississippi companies who have already or will be involved in construction, Day said. When operational, the plant will employ 300 workers.