PSC approves 2003 environmental filing
In mid-March, the Mississippi Public Service Commission approved Mississippi Powers Environmental Compliance Overview (ECO) filing for 2003. The annual filing reports the companys actual capital and operating costs related to meeting environmental requirements during the previous year and projected costs for such projects in the current year.
The ECO plan was put into effect in 1992 as a way for customers to see what part of their bill is related to complying with environmental rules and regulations, said company spokesman Kurt Brautigam. During that time, Mississippi Power has spent approximately $130 million on environmentally-related projects.
In 2002, the company spent more than $4 million on capital projects, including replacing equipment on several generating units which allows the company to meet Compliance Assurance Monitoring (CAM) requirements.
In 2003, capital projects include spending more than $930,000 to further meet CAM regulations. In addition, $5.8 million will be spent on the construction of a new ash handling system at Plant Watson in Gulfport (see related story).
Environmental statutes and regulations are constantly evolving, said Brautigam. We continually evaluate the compliance alternatives available to us as we plan for the future and work to maintain flexibility as requirements change. Obviously, its important to comply with all rules and regulations related to environmental issues and we do that without question, but we also try to find ways to do so that are most beneficial to our customers.
Due to slightly increased costs for the 2003 filing, residential customers will see a monthly increase of about 1 cent per 1,000 kilowatt-hours for the next year.
Plant Watson ash handling facility under construction
Work began in April on a new system for handling and disposing of fly ash collected at Mississippi Powers Plant Watson in Gulfport. The new facilities will allow the plant to change its process of collecting, handling and storing the ash and will also provide an opportunity to send it off-site for industrial re-use.
The new ash handling system is expected to go into operation by late summer. New transport pipes and a storage silo will be constructed south of the powerhouse on plant property along Cowan Road.
Burning coal to generate electricity creates a fine ash that is collected before it leaves the plants stacks, said Kurt Brautigam, Mississippi Power spokesman. That process is part of our compliance with the Clean Air Act.
Plant Watsons original design sends the ash to a storage pond that will soon reach its capacity. The new disposal system will allow for having it trucked away from the site. A new dry storage facility is also being constructed at the plant to handle any ash not sold or moved off-site.
Well soon have the option of selling the ash, Brautigam said. Numerous construction companies recycle fly ash, mostly using it as an additive for concrete products. The option to sell the ash was one we wanted to pursue because it has the potential to partially offset costs.
The project will cost approximately $7 million. Planning began in 2001 and the state Public Service Commission approved the project last year. Mississippi Power has also worked with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) while designing and permitting the new system.
Power of Flight grants awarded in Mississippi
Southern Company and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation recently announced that the Mississippi Chapter of The Nature Conservancy will receive one of two $50,000 grants in recognition of the Centennial of the National Wildlife Refuge System, started in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt.
The grants will be awarded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Mississippi Chapter of the Nature Conservancy as part of Southern Companys partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation program called The Power of Flight.
The money will go to help restore more than 500 acres of wet pine savanna habitat on the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge and the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Wet pine savannas provide critical habitat for the endangered Mississippi Sandhill Crane and a host of other birds and wildlife.
The national refuge system protects nearly 100 million acres for wildlife while providing excellent opportunities for hunting, fishing, recreation, wildlife observation and education, said Mississippi Power spokesman Kurt Brautigam. This grant will help promote active management of two critical southeastern ecosystems."
The other grant will go to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge to help restore approximately 500 acres of freshwater wetlands habitats. The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge protects a portion of the tidal freshwater wetlands on the Atlantic Seaboard and serves as the winter home for more than 25 percent of the ducks in South Carolina.
New services help build reliability
Finding new ways to serve customers has always been a hallmark of Mississippi Powers business strategy. The success of those efforts is reflected every year in customer satisfaction surveys that rank the company among the nations best utilities.
Now Mississippi Powers Business & Industry Energy Services group has developed a line of services designed to save customers thousands of dollars and prevent costly delays by catching potential problems before they shut down a facility.
Using infrared camera technology, employees can scan factory equipment, transformers, power lines and other facilities to detect hot spots of possible trouble. In its full color mode, the infrared camera views temperatures from 1 degree to 2,900 degrees as it scans the equipment. Higher-than-normal readings can often indicate potential problem areas.
Weve been using this process on our facilities for some time now to improve the reliability of our system, said company spokesman Kurt Brautigam. The same services can also help improve the reliability of mechanical and electrical systems for our customers.
One of the most valuable aspects of our service, especially for larger customers, is reliabilityin some cases even more so than low pricing. If we can help them avoid interruptions in their production, it can mean significant savings.
In addition to the infrared service, Mississippi Power also offers business and industrial customers vibration analysis, laser alignment and ultrasonic testing. For more information, customers may call the companys Business Service Center at (877) 656-1836.