MS Sierra Club Director Louie Miller Calls on Gov. Bryant to Appoint Commissioner Who Will Protect Mississippi Ratepayers
AUGUST 7TH, 2013 Sierra Club Staff GULFPORT, MS – Public Service Commissioner Leonard Bentz is expected to announce his resignation from the commission immediately, to take a new position as the Executive Director of the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District (SMPDD). Commissioner Bentz, who has served on the commission since 2005, will leave the commission before a series of hearings and votes are taken that will determine whether Mississippi Power customers will be forced to pay for the over budget Kemper County coal plant, an experimental coal gasification facility in Kemper County, MS. The plant is now projected to cost $5 billion after Mississippi Power’s parent company absorbed an additional $450 million in cost overruns in July, which triggered a second credit downgrade for Mississippi Power by Moody’s.
Mississippi Sierra Club Director Louie Miller issued the following statement in response:
“Given the massive cost overruns, hidden information, and looming rate increases from the Kemper plant, it’s no surprise that Bentz would want to get off this sinking ship. While he leaves the PSC and more than doubles his salary, he's leaving MS ratepayers with a boondoggle of an over budget project whose price tag is nearly $5 billion and growing. This is cronyism at its worst, and should strike reasonable people as outrageous. It’s an insult and an outrage to Southern Mississippi ratepayers that Bentz now has a golden parachute and can take the cowardly option of leaving before he faces the consequences of his vote to approve the Kemper plant. The next commissioner will have some serious choices to make. Will he or she continue supporting a dirty, expensive, and unnecessary project that is billions of dollars over budget, or will he or she stand with Mississippi ratepayers and pull the plug on a bloated project that is now the most expensive coal-fired power plant in the country? We call on Governor Bryant to appoint a smart, experienced, and courageous Commissioner who will make protecting Mississippi ratepayers his or her absolute priority--even if it means standing up to Mississippi Power.”