MS Democratic Party chairman: Kemper plant already built

Q. From a political perspective, the Republicans have been extremely supportive of the Kemper plant. Former Gov. Haley Barbour was much in favor of the plant. At the Public Service Commission, the two Republican commissioners – Leonard Bentz and Lynn Posey – have supported it, but the Democratic Commissioner Brandon Presley has been opposed to it. Do you have any thoughts on that?

A. I don’t see it as a partisan issue. I think there are honest people in both parties … will certainly have an impact on Republican credentials. … If publisher Wyatt Emmerich (of the Northside Sun) were to self-identify by party, he would probably call himself a Republican. He’s been a critic of the plant. And then there are Democrats who have been supportive, particularly in the local area of Kemper County, Lauderdale County, Neshoba County — people who are nearby to the project and whose constituency benefits from the construction and presence of the facility. There are folks in both parties on both sides … But now that the facility is constructed, it’s a foregone conclusion. And I think most people understand now, it’s one of those projects that everybody should make the best of.

Q. What about rate impacts to customers or businesses?

A. I am convinced that Mr. Presley is doing everything he can to keep rates at a minimum, and that’s his job. I believe that over time rates will go up on all of us all over the state like they will for the whole country. The demand for electricity continues. But I believe in a situation like this with the Mississippi Power power plant, those rates are set now. I don’t know what the impact will be. … We have to have the electricity from some source. I’m glad that it’s a Mississippi source for generating electricity. I’m glad to know that the landowners over there in the mining part of the facility are going to make some good money off their mineral rights. So a lot of the money that is going to go to these increased rates is going to go back to Mississippians in the construction phase, Mississippians that will work to run the plant, and also the landowners who get the benefit of selling lignite. Much of the money will stay in Mississippi.

Q. So you’re saying people will have to pay rate increases for the plant, but the money is just going to go back to the people?

A. A lot of the money will stay in Mississippi.

BPF
4/17/13