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Mississippi Power to Enhance Mississippi Independence

Photo Courtesy of Mississippi Power and the Southern Company

Mississippi Power (MP) is moving forward with a massive new project to enhance electricity production in the southern United States. Currently under construction, their new power plant is located on several hundred acres about 30 miles north of Meridian, in Kemper County, and was specifically located to make use of regional fuel sources. Ground was officially broken on March 10, 2011, and a number of state and local officials were on hand to welcome the construction project. The 582-megawatt plant is scheduled to be online in preparation for increased demand by the summer of 2014.

The new plant will use lignite, a local brown coal, as its main power source. Mississippi has an estimated lignite reserve of four billion tons, and Kemper County has an abundance of lignite and natural gas resources. The plant will have its own lignite mines onsite, which will reduce fuel transportation time and any associated costs, resulting in a lower energy production price per kilowatt hour.

Rather than burning coal directly, the plant will convert lignite to gas using an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC). After its conversion into gas, the fuel will be burned to create power. This system is more efficient than crushing and burning coal directly.

With an IGCC system, lignite is fed into a gasifier and subjected to intense heat and pressure that forces it to go through a chemical reaction. This reaction turns the coal into a synthetic gas, or “syngas,” with various useful components. The resulting syngas is then used to power gas turbines, producing electricity.

In addition, the new plant adapts the IGCC process by running any unconverted coal back through the system a second time to increase gas output. This converts a higher percentage of the original fuel for electricity generation. The plant will also make use of local natural gas reserves to provide additional power without the gasification step.

Along with the plant’s energy-related benefits, the project will provide more than 1,000 construction jobs and 260 permanent jobs for this rural area. With the still-lingering effects of the economic downturn and the BP oil spill, the new jobs and increased local and state tax revenues will be a windfall for Mississippi’s damaged economy.

In order to construct this plant and meet EPA emissions regulations, Mississippi Power accepted grants and federal assistance totalling $682 million, along with loan guarantees from the federal government. Mississippi Power’s investment totals approximately $2.4 billion for this project.

Coal-Fired Power Generation and the Future

Coal-fueled power plants are being built at a rapid pace worldwide in order to handle increased residential and commercial energy demands. As a natural resource, coal is easier to access than oil and natural gas, and it has a comparatively lower and more stable commodities price. It provides a significant cost savings for electricity consumers when compared to nuclear, natural gas, and oil-fired power plants.

As of 2009, the United States had 594 coal-fired power plants out of 6,274 power generation facilities. Of these, 1,203 were petroleum-based power plants and another 1,652 were powered by natural gas. With the second-largest coal reserves in the world, the United States is ideally suited to ramp up its electricity generation and fuel independence by constructing a substantial number of coal-fired power plants to replace those utilizing petroleum and natural gas.

New technology for IGCC systems allows power plants to use lower grades of coal that were previously considered unsuitable for power generation. This opens up speculation on a wide range of locations and “new” fuel reserves, and will help the U.S. become energy independent if these reserves are properly harnessed for use. Further, if the U.S. stops exporting coal to other countries, our reserves will last longer and provide more power for our own citizens.

The U.S. currently has 21 coal-fired plants in various stages of construction, with another 36 plants announced and seeking the required permissions. Considering the country’s aging power infrastructure, this new construction is a boon to the consumer. More power plants to address demand should reduce brownouts and rolling blackouts, and ensure that each region has ready access to its own power sources.

Coal-fired power plants have a lifespan of between 30 to 40 years, and it’s estimated that the plant will only use a small fraction of local fuel reserves during its operational years. It would be beneficial to establish more IGCC plants in coal-rich regions such as this to make use of local natural resources, and to reduce our dependence on foreign fuel imports earmarked for electricity generation.
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  1. WAY TO GO, MISSISSIPPI!!!! I just wish you could have done it without government grants. The rest of us (states) should follow suit.

    • I would rather see Mississippi get those grants than Louisiana. First Katrina and now this and the great state of Mississippi is, again, pulling themselves up by the boot straps while the state of Louisiana still has their hand out. They really need to replace the rest of the state government in Louisiana!

  2. Gentlemen: This sounds like an excellent idea IF the EPA will not put too many restrictions on it like needlessly capturing CO2.

    • Good point, Robert. Why to people fall for the BS about co2? Hello-o-o-o. Without CO2, plants die! Without plants there is no oxygen and we die. Let me spell it out one more time: Animals inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide (CO2). Plants take in CO2 and give off oxygen (O2). Man is not capable of producing more CO2 than the plants can handle. It’s called Divine design. Thank you.

  3. Robert, the plant in Mississippi is going to capture 60% of the CO2 produced and will capture it for sale to the oil industry to further help the production of oil from a local field.

    I agree with mom2most about the effects of CO2 and global warming (it’s a farce) but the capture and sale in this case is part of what makes the plant both appealing and profitable.

    • mississippicoal.wordpress

      Lets investigate this further. Have ratepayers been notified, in writing, of the rate increases? No
      Has there been full disclosure of where the limit is, if there is one? No.

      “There are currently no laws mandating carbon capture,” stated a brief from the Virginia Attorney General’s office, which advocates on behalf of consumers. “Any potential benefit is speculative and outweighed by the enormous cost of the pilot project.”

      But Obama wants these CO2 Plants. In 2010, President Barack Obama unveiled a goal to bring five to 10 commercial-size CCS demonstration plants on line in the U.S. by 2016.

      The EPA says Carbon Dioxide is a poisonous gas and needs to be regulated. Kemper County Lignite Coal Plant will capture CO2 emissions in compliance to the nonexistent Cap and Trade Regulations pushed by the Center of American Progress. Their President is John Podesta and financed by George Soros. Sorry to be reading like a Glenn Beck chalkboard but the connections are clear.
      My problem is that this is risk to the ratepayers instead of Mississippi Power, and their affiliate investors. But no one would invest with them to risky and MSPC could not get a loan, I understand, because the Moodys gave them negative credit scores across the board.

      The Center for American Progress is promoting Cap n Trade/CO2 capturing Coal plants.
      Why? Well Van Jones said it best in this video about Social Justice. or here

      Then there is always those pesky people who live near the plant who say it is noisy yes but the smell of ammonia (used in the CO2 capturing) causes property values to drop as people must flee the fumes. Or how about the family who lost cattle and water sources were poisoned form CO2 leaks? Where have these issues been addressed publicly in full disclosure by those who claim to be our advocates ie our Public Service Commissioners? If you have nothing to hide you hide nothing and the Kemper County Coal CO2 capturing plant is full of secrets and back-room deals that no one is addressing in the media.

      Investigative reporting is a dying art.

  4. tomorrows energy

    Why no mention of the rate increase to every Mississippian? This even after the tax payers subsidized 1/3 of the projects cost.

    While I can’t debate climate change I can safely say It can’t hurt to not smoke cigarettes, it can’t hurt to not burn lignite, and it cant hurt to use the energy thats currently hitting your roof.

    I think you grossly underestimate what man can do or what our impact can be, while your right the world will correct its self. have you thought about the possibility of over correction?

    Whats your take on the gov of MS stating we have 100 or 200 years left of cheap energy (coal/lignite)? He made it sound like along time. thats one life time on the short end. and when we run out of oil, coal will go extinct just as fast as the trees that made it. I hope they wake up and realize we should make that coal stretch and a good place to start is cap and trade in particularly the 25% renewable man date.

    Energy is to cheap in MS, I say this because most of my customers keep their homes at 68 degrees and still have all those incandescent lamps. I guess I actually look forward to those rate increases, it will play right into the hands of renewable energy.

    I hope your new plant gets a co2 clog right in the sphincter.
    have a sunny day.

  5. We’re not going to run out of oil… EVER! Politics and environmental regulations (restrictions) are what (will) prevent the oil from reaching the pumps, and hence our fuel tanks. The earth was created with plenty of oil for the rest of the forseeable future. Don’t believe the hype and don’t swallow the lies. Instead, follow the money. Our problem is a much deeper and darker spiritual problem and the solution can only be found by returning to our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.

  6. South ms poultry

    This article is full of false info. Firstly, the cost cap was raised to $2.88 billion last year. It isn’t Mississippi Power Co’s investment. Our legislators and guv saw fit to make the ratepayers foot the entire project, whether it works or not, even if it’s never completed. (SB 2793, regular session 2007 I believe) This global warming “cap and trade” nonsense was part of Haley’s legacy. The poorest state in the nation will be the test bed, the first commercial scale CO2 capture. So Mississippi ratepayers will be paying the better part of a billion dollars for this unnecessary cap and trade technology. A technology that will consume between 1/4 and 1/3 of the energy generated, hence the 582 megawatts. That’s net power, the gross is much higher. So guess who essentially winds up paying the cost of all that power consumed on site… That’s right, the ratepayers again. See a trend here? The benefit of coal is it’s price. Yet Mississippians just got sold a 582 MW power plant for $2.4-2.88 billion, that’s outrageous. Governor Barbour had the opportunity to appoint one of the Public Service Commissioners after Katrina, and Mississippians rates are going up, up, up.

    • mississippicoal.wordpress

      I completely agree. China who has no respect for life or people will test it in 2012 Mississippi will be 2nd. How is that proven technology? It is not. Not only is it not proven will I not benefit directly from the power I will feel the affect when the Watson Plant closes and families have to pay higher prices in the grocery stores to off-set the cost of the electric bill.

      If Gov Barbour’s lobbying firm has Southern Co. as a client, is that a conflict of interest? Would he benefit from the $2.8Billion enterprise? Would Steven Chu, Obama’s Energy Czar benefit from pushing the plant since he may have patents he can Millions from? Then can Hayley Barbour, So company, and Steven Chu can support the elections of progressive minded followers and the circle continues.

      Did I mention that Haley Barbour is a very very close personal friend of Leonard Bentz.?

  7. South ms poultry

    Did I mention that Gov Barbour’s lobbying firm has Southern Co as a client?

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