PowerPoints, May 2005

PSC approves 2005 environmental filing

In mid-April the Mississippi Public Service Commission approved Mississippi Power’s Environmental Compliance Overview (ECO) filing for 2005. The annual filing reports the company’s actual capital and operating costs to meet environmental requirements during the previous year and predicted costs for such projects in the current year. Due to a slight increase in costs for the 2005 filing, retail customers will see a monthly increase of about 15 cents per 1,000 kilowatt-hours of usage.

“The ECO plan was put into effect in 1992 as a way to maintain stable customer costs while the company complies with environmental requirements,” said company spokesman Kurt Brautigam. “Since that time, Mississippi Power has spent nearly $150 million on environment-related projects.”

In 2004, the company spent $2.9 million in capital and $5.3 million in operations and maintenance (O&M) costs to meet environmental regulations. The 2005 projected costs include about $5.7 million for capital projects and $6.1 million for O&M.

Planned capital projects for 2005 include relocating the Continuous Emissions Monitoring equipment on Plant Watson units 4 and 5; replacing sulfur burners on Watson’s Unit 5; and initial engineering and designing for an activated carbon injector for Plant Daniel’s Unit 2.

“Environmental statutes and regulations are constantly evolving,” said Brautigam. “Judging from the discussions going on now in Washington, we anticipate that there will be significant projects required in the near future. We will comply with all rules and regulations related to environmental issues, but we’ll also work hard to find ways to do so that are most beneficial to our customers.”

Renew Our Rivers to kick off

Mississippi Power employees are making plans to initiate Renew Our Rivers, a Southern Company river clean up program, in Mississippi.

“Each year, employees from throughout our company participate in stewardship projects as part of their environmental programs,” said company spokesman Kurt Brautigam. “We plan to build on successes we have established in Mississippi to broaden the Renew Our Rivers concept, as well as contribute to an overall Southern Company goal."

Now in its fifth year, Renew Our Rivers has removed about 2.8 million pounds of litter and debris from rivers, lakes and waterways in Alabama and Georgia. Mississippi Power’s employees plan to add to that success.

“Each year, employees throughout the Coast, Pine Belt and Meridian areas contribute their time and efforts to river and beach cleanups, household hazardous waste collection days and environmental education events,” said Brautigam. In addition to employee efforts, the Renew Our Rivers program will seek to attract community support as well.

“There are many local groups and organizations we can partner with, and many other projects already going that we can try to help,” Brautigam said. “Getting numerous involved in these efforts will not only help increase the cleanup efforts, but will also help raise awareness about preventing litter in these valuable resources.”

Land trusts developing in South Mississippi

As part of efforts to conserve and protect natural resources throughout Mississippi Power’s service area, the company’s employees continue to be active in developing local land trusts. Employees and retirees have taken lead roles in the formation and growth of the nonprofit organizations such as the Wolf River Conservation Society, Mississippi Coastal Plains Land Trust and the East Mississippi Foothills Land Trust.

“Rivers like the Wolf, Pascagoula, Chunky, Okatoma and Leaf are part of the fabric of South Mississippi and create the natural beauty that we have become accustomed to,” said Kurt Brautigam, company spokesman. “Our employees and other groups have participated in stream cleanups and water quality testing for years. Land trusts are an even better way to ensure that we can help preserve our natural resources and historical sites.”

The state’s newest land trust, the East Mississippi Foothills Land Trust (EMFLT), was recently established in the Meridian area and has received status as a tax-exempt organization from the IRS.

“Now that we have that, we can begin to recruit more members, publicize what we’re doing and create much more public awareness,” said Duffee Williams, president of the organization and a Mississippi Power retiree.

In March, an advisory board representing community and environmental leaders from the Pine Belt area met to discuss joining efforts with the Mississippi Coastal Plains Land Trust (MCPLT), one of the largest land trusts in the state – covering most of South Mississippi including the Pascagoula and Pearl River basins. These two large watersheds mirror Mississippi Power’s service area, which runs from the Gulf of Mexico to Meridian.

“The inspiration for those efforts came from the success we’ve seen in protecting the Wolf and Pascagoula river watersheds,” Brautigam said. “It would be wonderful to do the same for the Chunky, Okatoma and Leaf rivers.”

The conservation successes by the Wolf River Conservation Society and MCPLT have been multiplying for several years, with properties totaling over 500 acres and a value of more than $2 million recently being donated to the organizations.

Nationally, there are more than 1,260 local and regional land trusts that protect nearly 6.5 million acres of farmland, wetlands, ranches, forests, watersheds, corridors and other land types.

Willow tree planting will help protect riverbank

In March, Mississippi Power employees were planting trees, but not as part of a special environmental celebration. Instead, employees at Plant Eaton in Petal, with the help of the Corps of Engineers, placed willow tree cuttings along the embankment of the Leaf River as an environmentally friendly solution to help reduce erosion on the inclined embankment located north of the plant. The project was necessary to maintain the plant’s access to the river’s flow.

“By using tree cuttings indigenous to the property, these trees will be able to grow at a fairly fast pace – six to eight feet by the end of the summer,” said Ron Herring, environmental specialist, who helped coordinate the permits and work with the Corps of Engineers.

After being soaked in river water to promote the rooting process, the trees were strategically placed to grow in a fashion that will allow the river to rise and recede without significantly eroding that area which leads to the intake structure at the plant.

“Within 18 months, these trees should be fully grown and able to stabilize the embankment,” Herring said. In the meantime, the new roots, which will continue to spread, should help reduce bank erosion this season.

The planting of the willows is the preventative phase of a project started last year when an area of the Leaf River north of the plant’s intake valve was dredged. “This step,” said Herring, “allows us to maintain the natural beauty of the area surrounding the plant, instead of using concrete or other materials normally used to curtail erosion.”