State utility regulators to open hearing on costs for part of Mississippi Power's Kemper plant

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JACKSON, Mississippi — Utility regulators open a hearing Tuesday to determine whether Mississippi Power Co. spent prudently in the construction of part of its $6.4 billion Kemper County power plant.

The prudency hearing will shape how three public service commissioners vote in December on whether the unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. can keep collecting an 18-percent rate increase from its 186,000 customers.

The Public Service Commission granted Mississippi Power an emergency rate increase in August, after the company pleaded that it was running out of cash.

The utility says it's due $159 million a year because part of the power plant has been generating electricity since August 2014, burning natural gas.

The independent Public Utilities Staff and a group of ratepayers both challenge that figure, saying Mississippi Power asks too much.

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