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Mississippi Power says Kemper project will go online by end of April

Mississippi Power Co. reported April 3 that the remainder of its oft-delayed Plant Ratcliffe integrated gasification combined-cycle plant will be placed in service by the end of April.

In a Form 8-K, the Southern Co. subsidiary said it has completed the outage on gasifier "A," including necessary corrective actions, after experiencing "certain tube leaks in one of the syngas coolers."

The leaks resulted in Mississippi Power missing its mid-March previous in-service date for the Kemper County, Miss., project..

"The schedule reflects the time expected to restart gasifier 'A' and establish integrated operation with gasifier 'B,' which remained in operation during the gasifier 'A' outage," the company wrote in its filing.

The total project cost for Kemper stands at $7.24 billion through February, according to the filing, compared to $7.14 billion in the report Mississippi Power filed March 3.

The latest report reflects a $70 million cost estimate increase, including $45 million to extend Kemper's projected schedule, $15 million for startup fuel and $10 million for outage work and operational maintenance and improvements.

These cost increases were attributed to, among other reasons, "major equipment failure" and "unforeseen engineering or design problems."

Southern management indicated on a Feb. 22 earnings call that the economic viability of the Kemper project has been pressured by low gas prices, adding to operating costs.