By Steve Wilson / July 7, 2015 / www.mississippiwatchdog.org
The Mississippi Public Service has taken a big step toward getting refund checks to Mississippi Power customers.
The three-commissioner board that regulates utilities voted 3-0 Tuesday to rescind the 18 percent increase — which Mississippi Power enacted to help fund the Kemper Project — starting with August bills for customers.
The refund could add up to $500 to $600 per 1,000 kilowatt-hour users, or between $335 and $350 million, according to Mississippi Power attorney Ben Stone.
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Next up for the board will be a mechanism on how to get either checks or credits to the utility’s 186,000 customers in south Mississippi.
The increase, approved by the PSC in 2013, was thrown out by an order from theMississippi Supreme Court in a lawsuit brought by Hattiesburg businessman Thomas Blanton.
Mississippi Power’s request for a rehearing, which might have overturned the original order, was denied by the court in June.
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The now-$6.229-billion plant is billions over budget, two years behind schedule and has sparked a series of lawsuits. It’s designed to convert the state’s abundant lignite coal reserves, mined nearby, into a natural gas-like substance called synthesis gas to burn in its electricity-generating turbines, which, since August, have been generating electricity using natural gas.