Southern's Mississippi unit reaches settlement over Kemper rates

Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:58pm EST

Jan 24 (Reuters) - The Mississippi Public Service Commission on Thursday approved a settlement with Southern Co's Mississippi utility over ongoing litigation that has prevented the company from charging customers for costs tied to a $3 billion coal-gasification power plant under construction in Kemper County.

Details of the settlement were not disclosed at a hastily called meeting of the Mississippi Public Service Commission, but will be released later on Thursday, PSC Chairman Leonard Bentz said.

Discussion of the proposed settlement was held in executive session of the commission.

Mississippi Power unit is building a 582-megawatt, integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) plant scheduled to begin operating in May 2014.

The utility is Southern's smallest with just 185,000 customers so the rate impact of the costly plant is of concern to consumer groups in the state.

Under the Mississippi Baseload Act, the utility planned to begin charging customers for certain costs related to Kemper while the plant was under construction, but its efforts have been blocked by the state's highest court.

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