Corporate socialism

Corporate socialism is how Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley describes Mississippi Power Company’s $2.8 billion lignite-fueled electric power plant now under construction in Kemper County.

You’d be hard-pressed to challenge his characterization, given that MPC’s lignite venture is the first power plant ever built with consumers, rather than the company, paying the bill for its construction. MPC’s 168,000 Ratepayers would pick up that tab even before they used one kilowatt from it.

“This is a heck of a good deal for stockholders of the company (Southern Company),” said Presley, “but a raw deal for ratepayers.” Southern Company, which had $2.2 billion net profit in 2011, is the nation’s fourth largest electric utility.

Kemper is unique for another reason: It’s the first time lignite — a peat-like form of soft coal found broadly in east-central Mississippi is used as a fueling ingredient to generate electricity. Lignite, in thickness ranging from one to six inches under a thin soil cover, has long been known to exist in Northeast Mississippi but has never been mined commercially because of its low combustible quality.

Bill Minor