For years now, Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D) has been leading a fight against the construction of the lignite coal Kemper County by Mississippi Power. Presley had some pretty powerful enemies in this fight, with both then-Gov. Haley Barbour (R) and then-Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant (R) leading the charge for the plant’s construction. It’s not that Presley hates coal, or is anti-energy. It’s that he’s firmly against fleecing the ratepayers of Mississippi. Which is, of course, exactly what is now happening.
Here’s some background: Mississippi has fairly large quantities of lignite coal. As far as coal goes, lignite ain’t good for much. But a new, untested technology hopes to change that. The idea is that rather than burning the lignite, it is gasified instead to produce energy to harness and send down transmission lines to ratepayers. Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of the Southern Company, started throwing its political weight around to get the Public Service Commission to allow them to raise rates to fund the construction of a lignite plant in Kemper County. And it worked, and the rates for Mississippi Power customers went up.