Here’s a juicy taste of coal plant greenwashing. A report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis reveals that Mississippi Power’s Kemper County coal plant is in far worse shape than the company is saying.
The analysis reveals that the new plant, with its untested gasification technology, is way behind schedule in both engineering and construction, and at less than fifty percent complete, is likely to see further delays and cost overruns. The report casts doubt on the planned May 2014 end date of the project.
Findings in the Institute report include:
- The Kemper project is likely only 40-45 percent complete, and not “more than 70 percent complete” as Mississippi Power has claimed; plus construction is behind schedule.
- Direct construction costs are now nearly $3 billion, or 20 percent higher than Mississippi Power predicted in 2010, during the certification process at the Public Service Commission.
- Mississippi Power now estimates that it will have to spend nearly $200 million more in project financing costs than the amount capped by the Commission and this figure could rise much higher. Moreover, a September 2012 report by the Mississippi Public Service Commission says the total uncapped costs for the project could reach $600 million (and that does not include another $195 million in uncapped, non-mine costs.)
- The most recent review by the Commission’s Independent Monitor showed that concrete work at Kemper was 23 percentage points behind schedule at the end of July.
- Steel work was 10 percentage points behind schedule, and further construction cost increases and delays during plant startup and testing are likely.
“More than two years after the Public Service Commission originally approved this plant, we’re looking at a project that has consistently cost more than planned, has taken longer than planned, and shows no signs of correcting the course,” says Louie Miller, State Director of the Mississippi Sierra Club.
“Sierra Club has fought this dirty, expensive, and unnecessary plant because, in the end, Mississippi families and businesses will be forced to shell out, at present, $3.62 billion dollars and rising, to build a plant that is already hundreds of millions over budget and is not guaranteed to work on day one. And once Mississippians start to pay, they will be paying for 40 years, even with cheaper, cleaner energy sources available. We knew this was a bad deal for Mississippi Power customers from the beginning. The Public Service Commission needs to step in and pull the plug before customers are made to foot the bill for Mississippi Power’s billion-dollar mistake.”
It’s bad enough that new coal plant construction gets approved, it’s even worse when the dirty facts about a dirty and expensive project are glossed over.
[Image: Plant Ratcliffe – Kemper IGCC from the Southern Company website]