Moniz, international delegation tour Kemper County project site

U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz on Nov. 8 joined an international delegation of government and industry leaders to tour the in-construction Kemper County coal gasification power plant, which has been embroiled in controversy due to cost overruns.

During the visit, international energy ministry officials representing more than a half dozen countries discussed opportunities to leverage the facility’s technology to cleanly and efficiently meet their nations’ energy needs, said project backer Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) in a Nov. 8 statement. The event followed the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) Ministerial Meeting in Washington, D.C., where the Kemper project was endorsed by the CSLF and added to its portfolio of pioneering activities.

“Southern Company is, in many ways, leading all towards a 21st century generation portfolio,” said Moniz. The project is being built by Southern Co. subsidiary Mississippi Power.

Joining Moniz at the Kemper facility were Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, Southern Co. Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Fanning, Mississippi Power President and CEO Ed Holland and energy ministry officials from around the world, including Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom.

“The Kemper County energy facility’s technology provides a way to maintain coal’s place in a clean, safe, reliable and affordable portfolio of energy resources,” said Fanning. “Today’s visit demonstrates the international interest in using 21st century coal technology first deployed in Mississippi to help power economies around the globe.”

There are currently 6,000 workers onsite and more than 480 Mississippi companies involved in the Kemper project. Most recently the project met major milestones by testing the power generation portion of the plant and connection of its largest electric transmission lines. The facility is scheduled to begin operation in the fourth quarter of 2014, Southern noted.

The project is part of the Energy Department’s Clean Coal Power Initiative (CCPI), which is aimed at securing low-cost energy production and protecting the environment through public and private investment.

The Kemper IGCC is utilizing an integrated coal gasification combined cycle technology. In connection with the Kemper IGCC, Mississippi Power also is constructing and plans to operate about 61 miles of CO2 pipeline infrastructure to dispose of much of the CO2 produced by the plant.

The Kemper IGCC was originally scheduled to be placed in service in May 2014. On Oct. 28, Mississippi Power revised the scheduled in-service date to the fourth quarter 2014 primarily as the result of lower-than-planned installation levels for piping as well as abnormally wet weather. Also on Oct. 28, Mississippi Power further revised its cost estimate for the Kemper IGCC to about $4.02bn, net of DOE grants and certain cost cap exceptions.

On Oct. 15, the Mississippi Public Service Commission issued a revised scheduling order for the prudence review of the Kemper IGCC costs incurred through March 31, 2013. Mississippi Power expects a decision from the Mississippi PSC in the second quarter 2014.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.