Mississippi PSC required spending docs for Kemper Coal: what about Plant Vogtle?

Maybe Georgia PSC could do about Georgia Power’s nuclear Plant Vogtle what Mississippi PSC did about Mississippi Power’s Kemper Coal: hold their parent Southern Company accountable for cost overruns. And for pipelines!

Sam R. Hall blogged for Daily Ledes 1 November 2013, Sources: U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to visit Kemper coal plant,

The PSC voted unanimously to require Mississippi Power to provide additional documents justifying their spending on the Kemper plant. The hearing is set for May 2014, when the plant was originally supposed to go online.

“If the PSC rejects some of the spending as imprudent, it could add to the $1 billion in costs that shareholders have already agreed to absorb,” the Associated Press reported last month.

Meanwhile, GA PSC abdicated cost oversight for new nukes at Plant Vogtle until they’re built. But GA PSC could change that decision at any time, especially if new Commissioners get elected.

AP 16 October 2013, PSC asking for more information on Kemper coal plant,

The state Public Service Commission voted 3-0 yesterday to require more information from Mississippi Power on the $4.75 billion it is spending to build the coal-fueled power plant in eastern Mississippi. The Sierra Club, which opposes the plant, had asked commissioners to reject the spending by the subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Co.

Commissioners had planned to put off reviewing spending until the Kemper plant was finished, but agreed in a settlement with Mississippi Power to examine some costs earlier. Yesterday’s action sets the hearing for May 2014. That was supposed to be the month when the plant goes into commercial operation, but the company recently announced it wouldn’t meet that deadline. If the PSC rejects some of the spending as imprudent, it could add to the $1 billion in costs that shareholders have already agreed to absorb.

Tuesday’s order says the commission will assume spending was wise, but said the company must say more about how it managed spending. Regulators also want information on the differences between original cost estimates and current forecasts. The project, including a mine and pipelines, is more than $1.5 billion over budget from original estimates.

What does this mean?

Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley, a Democrat, said the order raises the burden of proof on Mississippi Power.

“They’ve got to prove that the decisions they made were decisions an economical, efficient, well-managed utility would make,” said Presley, a Kemper opponent.

And what does that mean?

“Prudency governs a public utility’s continuation of an investment as well as its decision to enter into that investment … and requires the utility to respond prudently to changing circumstance or new challenges that arise as the project progresses,” the commission wrote, quoting a 1991 order from Louisiana.

Sierra Club lawyer Robert Wiygul said the commission needs to scrutinize decision-making during construction.

“Prudence is not just in the initial phases and authorization of the project, but throughout,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mississippi Power President Ed Holland just wrote the epitaph for coal:

“We think that the Kemper technology, what is being done in Mississippi, is the future of coal,” Holland said.

So, as we suspected, coal has no future. Just like Plant Vogtle and nuclear power.

And if GA PSC can’t or won’t hold Spectra Energy accountable for that destructive and unnecessary pipeline it wants to gash through Georgia, FL PSC can.