MS Power to Convert Several Plants from Coal to Natural Gas

Reported by: Ryan Mahan
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Updated: 8/04/2014 7:27 pm
The Watson power plant on Cowan Road will be converting from coal burning to natural gas within the next two years. The announcement is part of an agreed settlement between the Sierra Club and Mississippi Power that was announced Monday.

The Watson power plant will soon be making some changes to comply with new environmental standards and meet obligations under a settlement with Sierra Club. Mississippi Power is planning to repower, convert to natural gas, or retire several units at Watson, Sweatt, and Greene County plants. Watson plant and Greene County will no longer use coal, and will be converting their two remaining coal-fired units to natural gas no later than April of next year.

Plant Sweatt will retire one of its existing natural gas units and repower with more advanced technology no later than the end of the year 2018. The settlement also addresses the ongoing controversy surrounding the Kemper County plant, which is still under construction, which uses an unproven process to generate power and is currently 30% over budget.

According to the settlement, the Sierra Club must withdraw or dismiss all pending legal challenges against the Kemper project. Sierra Club’s lawyer, Robert Wiygul, still feels this is a win for Mississippi.

Wiygul says, "If Kemper County has taught us one thing, it’s that these big extraordinarily expensive power plants are risky for everyone. They are risky for the power company, they're risky for the consumer, and what this settlement is about is putting south Mississippi on a trajectory where it's going to have clean energy, and the rate payer is going to have a choice about where they get their power from."

Mississippi Power declined to appear in an on camera interview, but President and C.E.O., Ed Holland, released the following statement: "With the repowering, natural gas conversion, or retirement of certain units, Mississippi Power's energy mix is expected to be 60% powered by natural gas in 2020."

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