GLENN MCCULLOUGH: Kemper County power plant is the right energy for Mississippi

By Glenn McCullough

We all know that Mississippi’s unemployment and underemployment are too high. Mississippians desire and deserve more and better jobs, but these jobs require more electricity. History has shown that one percent growth in gross domestic product requires a .4 percent increase in electricity generation. The Mississippi Public Service Commission has wisely recognized this fact in a recent ruling which found that Mississippi needs additional base load electric supply.
Mississippi Power Company has a way to meet that need utilizing Mississippi’s own resources. Their proposed power plant in Kemper County would utilize state-of-the-art technology to generate clean, affordable power. The Kemper County power plant is right for Mississippi. Here’s why.
– Jobs for Mississippians. The proposed plant will create up to 1,000 good-paying jobs during construction, and 260 permanent jobs once built. Additionally, many more suppliers and contractors will increase the amount of new jobs, as businesses grow to meet the needs of this new facility. This will be a boon to Mississippi’s economy at a critical time.
– Lignite is the right fuel for Mississippi. Our supply of mineable lignite is sustainable and can provide power for decades to come. Additionally, the viability of lignite as a Mississippi power source has already been proven by the Mississippi Lignite Mining Company and Choctaw Generation near Ackerman. Lignite is an affordable, reliable and sustainable power source for Mississippi.
– A supply of clean electric power. By utilizing the most advanced gasification technology in the world, emissions of mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates from the plant will be reduced up to 99 percent. Additionally, the plant will capture 65 percent of carbon dioxide emissions for use in enhanced oil recovery to access “stranded” domestic oil pockets, which will also provide a boost to Mississippi’s economy and reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
– Affordable electricity for Mississippians. The Kemper County plant will generate low cost electricity, 30 percent less than the next best option. Additionally, the price of lignite is much less volatile than natural gas, which will help stabilize electricity rates. Mississippians will gain by having an additional source of affordable and dependable energy located in Kemper County.
– Raise Mississippi’s profile as a leader in the energy field. Our state’s resources and companies already establish Mississippi as a national leader in the energy sector. This state-of-the-art facility will be Mississippi’s first advanced gasification plant with the ability to capture carbon, and one of the first in the nation. The U.S. Department of Energy has already recognized the unique value of the proposed plant by committing $270 million in incentives to help the project move forward.
For these five reasons, Advance Mississippi encourages the Mississippi Public Service Commission to conduct careful deliberations about the project, utilize the Base Load Act passed by the state legislature in 2008 to promote the development of critical power projects, and allow for greater flexibility on the final estimated cost of the plant.
This plant will represent a victory for smart energy policy and planning, not just here in Mississippi, but for the nation as a whole. The Kemper County power plant is right for Mississippi.

Glenn McCullough, Jr. is the former chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority and also served as the Mayor of Tupelo. He is chairman of Advance Mississippi, a coalition that advocates for superior energy policies that will foster economic growth. Visit www.advancemississippi.com.