Mississippi Power said Sept. 13 that it recently completed a major milestone at its 582-MW Kemper County power plant as construction nears the halfway mark.
Installed was a section of the plant’s coal gasifier, which will be used to convert lignite coal from a new mine nearby into a synthetic gas that will be burned for power production. Mississippi Power, a unit of Southern Co. (NYSE: SO), has contracted with North American Coal to operate the new lignite mine. The power plant is also known officially as Plant Ratcliffe.
“Installation of the gasifier marks a pivotal point in the construction phase of our project and the advancement of 21st century coal technology,” said Mississippi Power Vice President of Generation Development Tommy Anderson.
Emission controls are built into the coal gasification process, the utility noted. The project will capture at least 65% of the CO2 produced, with resulting emissions comparable to a similarly sized natural gas plant. The company noted that it has signed long-term contracts to sell the byproducts from the gasification process. Revenue from the sale of these byproducts will lower the overall costs for customers by approximately $50m annually once the plant is in service.
The project is creating up to 3,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction and more than 300 permanent positions, the utility said. And, more than 250 Mississippi companies are providing construction, equipment, material or professional services on the project. One of those Mississippi companies is Contract Fabricators Inc. (CFI) of Holly Springs. CFI manufactured the first of two installed sections of the gasifier. Weighing about 550 tons, the gasifier is being lifted and installed by a 600-foot crane that was assembled on the plant site.
Commercial operation of this integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) facility is expected to begin May 2014.
The Kemper County project has been the source of much controversy, with the Sierra Club taking to the state Supreme Court the state Public Service Commission’s most recent decision on ratemaking for the plant. Mississippi Power in July also went to the state’s high court in a related matter.