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Another Utility Hustle

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The Mississippi Public Service Commission purports to regulate utility monopolies including Mississippi Power and Entergy Mississippi. But the PSC actually shills for them. A shill is a hustler’s accomplice who touts rubes to play rigged games. Entergy’s latest hustle is a $150 million solar plant experiment. Solar energy is a rigged game.

The Central District Commissioner is the PSC’s main solar shill. His recent newsletter says Mississippi ranks 50 out of 52 in U.S. solar deployment – but is poised to shine. It describes Entergy’s solar experiment and others. It recites solar talking points. The Commissioner knows the talking points. His former job was promoting solar and “sustainability” for something called the 25X‘25 Alliance.

You may remember Mississippi Power’s infamous Kemper County lignite plant experiment. A former governor and two pet PSC commissioners touted it. It was supposed to turn lignite (low grade coal) into a synthetic gas to burn and drive turbines to generate electricity. It was also supposed to capture carbon dioxide from the burning syngas and inject it into depleted oil fields to rejuvenate them.

So, Kemper’s experimental technology would turn worthless lignite into electricity, save the planet from CO2’s global warming, and recover oil from worn out fields. A three-fer! U.S. Department of Energy experts promoted the technology. They said the Chinese would license it. And do good for mankind with it. You know – like they did with COVID gain of function research (promoted by U.S Public Health experts).

The lignite plant was supposed to cost $1.6 billion – about three times more than a conventional natural gas turbine generating plant. But after six years and $7 billion, it hadn’t run. The PSC finally decided it wouldn’t run and threw in the prudence towel – when two new commissioners replaced the governor’s pets. “Prudence” is a magic PSC word. It means customers must pay for the utility’s shell game.

The PSC determined Kemper wasn’t prudent. But it still stuck customers with $854 million of its cost for turbines modified to run on natural gas. The company paid for the rest of the failed experiment.

It now turns out that none of Kemper’s electricity was needed. The PSC said it was when it issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) authorizing Kemper’s construction. Ooops. Note, the CPCN authorizes plant construction. Prudence makes customers pay for it. It’s a two-step hustle.

So now the PSC says Mississippi Power must reduce its generating capacity and shut down some plants. Guess what? It’s not going to shut down Kemper’s turbines. Their electricity is more expensive for customers – but more profitable for the company. Instead, Mississippi Power will shut down part of Plant Daniel near Pascagoula.

The part of Plant Daniel being shut down is coal fired. Mississippi Power has spent $770 million since 2014 to reduce its CO2 emissions. It charges customers for this (with PSC approval). Coal gives Mississippi Power fuel diversity. This was once important to the PSC. It cited fuel diversity

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