MISSISSIPPI POWER ANNOUNCES YET ANOTHER OPERATIONAL DATE FOR THE KEMPER PROJECT BY: STEVE WILSON
Mississippi Power says the Kemper Project clean coal power plant will be operational by April 30 and that the previously announced delay will cost an additional $70 million.
The company, a subsidiary of utility giant the Southern Company, revealed the information in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Monday. The added expense brings the total cost to $7.237 billion.
The company claims that its 186,000 ratepayers in south Mississippi won’t pay the additional costs for the power plant, which converts lignite coal mined on site into a natural gas-like substance called synthesis gas to fuel its electricity-generating turbines.
The utility announced on March 16 that the facility would miss its mid-March operational date because of tubing leaks in the synthesis gas cooler on one of the plant’s two gasifiers, Gasifier A, which required an outage for a repair. The company says it needs the additional time to restart Gasifier A and establish integrated operation on Gasifier B, which it says has been running since Gasifier A went down.
Getting Kemper operational has been a massive headache for the Southern Company. The utility has blown through seven months of new operation dates and is nearly three years behind schedule. The utility says every month of delay costs it between $25 million and $35 million.
The clean coal power plant has seen cost increases for 22 consecutive months. The project, announced in December 2006, was originally estimated to cost $1.8 billion.
Timeline on the last six months of schedule delays:
- Oct. 2 – Mississippi Power announces the plant will be operational on lignite by Nov. 30.
- Oct. 28 – The utility insists that the plant will be operational by that date.
- Oct. 31 – In an earnings call with investors, Tom Fanning, the CEO of Mississippi Power’s parent company (the Southern Company), says on the call that “as we moved through the startup process and we’ve knocked over these dominoes that you normally expect with the startup process, I think it has gone beautifully. This plant is going to work. It is working.”
- Nov. 4 – The company announces in a news release that it has revised Kemper’s in-service date to Dec. 31.
- Dec. 2 – In a news release, the company announces that Kemper’s commercial operation date is pushed back to January.
- Jan. 31 – The company admits in a news release that the plant won’t be operational until late February.
- Feb. 22 – Due to the need to shut down one of the plant’s two gasifiers for ash removal, the plant won’t go online until mid-March, according to a news release.
- March 16 – The company reveals that Kemper will miss its mid-March start date.
- April 3 – The company says the facility will be fully operational by April 30.