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Regulators reject bid by Mississippi Power to remove testimony in Kemper case

MONEY: Mississippi Power hopes to keep its $126 million increase passed in December 2015 for the next 20 years. Photo by Mississippi Power

The Mississippi Public Service Commission rejected most of Mississippi Power's motion to strike from the record several testimony filings from the proceedings over the Kemper Project Tuesday.

The three-member commission agreed to strike from the record testimony filed on behalf of Hattiesburg oilman Thomas Blanton, a long-time foe of the plant, but kept testimony from two witnesses filing on behalf of the Public Utilities Staff, a separate regulatory agency from the PSC.

The utility wanted part of the testimony of David Dismukesan economist and the executive director of the Center for Energy Studies at Louisiana State University and a consulting economist with the Acadian Consulting Group — struck because it said in its filing that it was "outside the scope" of the settlement docket.

Also, the company wanted part of Craig Roach's testimony eliminated from the docket because it said he was trying to re-litigate the case over the facility's certificate of public convenience and need. Roach is the founder and president of Washington, D.C.-based energy consulting firm Boston Pacific.

Northern District commissioner and PSC chairman Brandon Presley said that the commission won't be constrained by only considering the company's Aug. 21 filing of a settlement agreement. The company's proposal would force the company's 186,000 ratepayers in 23 coastal counties to continue to pay a $126 million increase for the next 20 years.

The $7.5 billion plant was originally designed to be fueled by lignite coal converted into synthesis gas, but will now to become a natural gas power plant after the company decided to abandon the gasifier units after three years of trying to get them operational. The plant was originally supposed to be operational by May 2014 and the company has already written off more than $6 billion in gasifier costs.

The PSC will conduct hearings starting December 4 and the commission hopes to have a decision by January.

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