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Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz calls the federally-funded Kemper "gasified-coal" power plant “A look into the future” and insists  "We're going to need not 10, maybe 100 more of these plants across the country,” when he toured the site late last year.

Moniz’s federal Department of Energy (DOE) has poured almost $300 million into the Kemper plant, as part of a program to encourage coal-fired power plants that produce “clean, reliable, and affordable" electricity, and planned to offer loan guarantees. But a closer work at the Kemper powerhouse reveals the facility will be dirtier than other proposed coal-fired plants and will emit more greenhouse gasses than a natural-gas-fired plant.

As for affordable electricity, plant owner Southern Company recently admitted to multi-billion dollar cost overruns on the plant's construction in Mississippi. This formerly $2.4  billion plant will now cost closer to $5 billion, and the meter is still running. The plant has fallen so far behind schedule that it’s forfeited another $135 million in tax credits, a fact Moniz chose not to mention.

For more dirt on this clean coal scheme, continue below the tangled orange transmission lines.

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 Southern’s subsidiary, Mississippi Power will be spreading that $5 billion cost onto only 180,000 nervous customers.  The power company already jacked up its rates by a staggering 15-21% in early 2013 to pay for the Kemper plant, even though it’s not yet operating.

That’s fine with Energy Secretary Moniz, who probably never had to choose between paying the rent and paying the electricity bill when he was on the MIT faculty. "We are all concerned about costs," Moniz said, and mistakenly added "The cost overruns have not been passed on to the rate payers.”

Moniz thought the hapless rate payers should be happy it wasn’t worse.
“I think typically you've had even larger rate impacts …the rate impact is certainly nothing unusual for any major new power plant of any technology," he claimed. http://www.meridianstar.com/...

The “larger rate impacts” are, in fact, fast approaching.  Energy industry consultants reported that residential electricity rates will skyrocket 60% when Kemper comes on line.  So much for the DOE-funded, coal-generated “affordable” electricity. http://www.biggerpieforum.org/...

The very existence of the plant is a testimony to Haley Barbour’s magical powers.  

Barbour, while Mississippi governor, also headed the BRG lobbying firm whose largest customer was Southern Company. Originally, the DOE had decided to fund a relatively unique “gasified” coal fired power plant in Orlando, Florida.  But the plant would have discharged too much pollution for then-Governor Jeb Bush, who successfully defeated the proposal.  Thank about that.  A plant too dirty for Jeb Bush.

Barbour and BGR’s magical lobbying powers essentially made the power plant “disappear” from Florida, and then re-appear, in northeast Mississippi, 500 miles away, somehow still retaining its federal funding. Barbour then slid from the governorship  back into the saddle at the BGR Group, who have received $2.6 million from Southern Company over the years.

Remember that the Orlando proposal was too dirty for even Jeb Bush?  The redesigned plant, to be sited in Kemper, would spew out far more air pollution than even the dirty Florida plant.  The company claims it will capture one-half to two-thirds of its Greenhouse Gasses. That’s pretty good for a coal-fired plant, but it still means the plant will emit around 2 million tons a year of additional greenhouse gasses, which would still be higher than the emissions rate of a gas-fired power plant.

And the maddening thing is that Mississippi is carpeted with scarcely-used natural gas fired power plants, a legacy of the Enron debacle, when far too many power plants were built in response to Enron’s criminal manipulations of the energy markets.  Southern claimed that natural gas prices were climbing to $12 (per 1000 cubic feet) so burning coal would produce cheaper electricity than $12 gas.  But today natural gas prices are less than $5.

The plant’s most odious feature may be the coal excavation scheme, under the banner of the new “Liberty” mine next to the plant.  The Liberty operation will destroy over 2200 acres of wetlands over 40 years while strip mining 50 square miles of Mississippi farmland and forests, peeling it bare to dig up lignite, which is the poorest grade coal in the planet.  If you want to leave carbon crap in the ground, lignite coal is a good candidate, right there with Tar Sands.

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